ANGRY residents confronted a builder as he felled four trees near their Frimley homes on Monday.
But they failed to stop the work on a piece of land behind the Texaco filling station in Bicknell Road.
The protesters were told by Surrey Heath Council that the builder was within his rights to axe the trees.
Mrs Zoe Stevens, one of 18 residents in the protest party, said: "We think it's wrong that he can chop down these trees without us having a say.
"We weren't told anything about it. The first we knew that the trees were going to be chopped down was when the workmen arrived on site."
She understood that the trees - a horse chestnut, two oaks and an apple tree - had been felled because six homes were due to be built on the land.
"The horse chestnut was beautiful and had been there for years," said Mrs Stevens, of Gorse Road, Frimley.
Ian Wright, council tree officer, said the horse chestnut, which he estimated was between 150 and 180 years old, was found to be diseased when examined five years ago.
"We therefore couldn't put a tree preservation order on it, as much as I wanted to," he said.
Neither were there preservation orders on the other three trees.
He understood that the builder intended submitting a planning application to build homes on the land.
Mr Wright said: "He will be expected to landscape the site and put in some trees which will be between 12ft and 18ft tall."