THOUSANDS of trees are to be felled in an Exmoor wood near Roadwater, parish councillors have been told.

Fountains Forestry is due to start work in the autumn on the felling project on land owned by Lady Elizabeth Gass, who was Lord Lieutenant of Somerset from 1998 to 2015.

The forestry management firm has been hired to manage a strip of woodland running behind the village’s Valiant Soldier public house and Roadwater Fishery and further into Exmoor.

Fountains Forestry regional manager David Adam and colleague Tom Pascall explained the company’s plans to a meeting of Old Cleeve Parish Council.

Mr Adam said work was due to begin in September and he estimated it would take about two years to complete.

He said the company would be removing several thousand trees, amounting to one to two thousands of tons of timber.

The woodland had previously been managed commercially, and now Fountains Forestry was working on a long-term management plan for the wood.

A report from the Forestry Commission, which also acts a tree felling licence, was currently awaited before work could start.

The work would mostly involve removal of dead and dangerous conifers and diseased ash trees, many suffering from ash dieback.

Felled conifers would be replaced by planting hazel and other broadleaf species in order to encourage biodiverse habitats.

Mr Adam recognised access to the woodland would present significant challenges and the company would need to create routes onto the land in order to access the felled trees.

He said the firm would not be blanket clearing and would only remove the trees which needed to be removed.