The council has been criticised for failing to act for more than a decade to protect a popular city wood from dying out.

More than three-quarters of the ancient Tolladine Wood in Worcester, which dates back as far as the 11th century, is under threat from ash dieback – a destructive airborne fungus which grows inside trees and eventually kills them.

But despite the warnings, Lib Dem councillors Sarah Murray and John Rudge said they have been left dumbfounded that nothing has been done to protect the historic trail – despite the council knowing about it for more than a decade.

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The pair also said council staff had suggested at a public meeting last week that because of the extent of the damage, the woods might even have to be cleared and the affected areas re-planted.

The ancient woodland might also have to close to the public because of the danger posed by falling trees.

Worcester News: CONCERNED: Warndon parish councillor John Rudge (left) and city councillor Sarah Murray (right)

Cllr Sarah Murray, who represents Warndon Parish North on Worcester City Council, said: “This is an environmental disaster which has been ignored for such a long time that we are now faced with the worst possible outcomes that could lead to the loss of access to a much loved, local amenity highly valued by the residents of Warndon Villages.

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“Access to the woodland is essential for the health, wellbeing and enjoyment of local residents and the habitat of local wildlife.

Worcester News: WOODS: Cllr Sarah Murray (left) and Cllr John Rudge at Tolladine Wood in Worcester

The ancient woodland is a haven for wildlife and provides numerous walking routes and short cuts and is especially loved by dog walkers.

“If residents are denied access, the natural environment loved by many residents will be lost.”

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Warndon parish councillor John Rudge said: “The city council has known about this problem for over 10 years but seem to have buried their heads in the sand over the issue.

“The longer you leave the problem, the more expensive it becomes to solve it. As the trees become more diseased, they become dangerous to work on and, as a last resort, may need to be felled with explosives rather than chainsaws.”

A spokesperson said: “Worcester City Council has a statutory duty to ensure that trees on its land which present a risk to health and safety are made safe and it continues to monitor trees affected by ash dieback and to take necessary action if a tree is deemed to be in a dangerous condition.

“The council is currently developing an ash dieback strategy which will set out how it intends to manage the impact of the disease on its tree stock.

“The draft strategy will be based on the need to take appropriate and cost-effective interventions which focus on public safety and will be presented to the environment committee for approval in the New Year.”