A GOLF club accused of 'wanton environmental vandalism' after a stand of protected trees was felled on its course has been told it's off the legal hook.

Poole Borough Council launched an investigation after it was alerted last December by horrified Compton Avenue residents, whose homes overlooked the felling site at Parkstone Golf Club.

The Echo understands that independent legal advice states there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic chance of conviction.

The news has infuriated residents. One, London banker, Peter Norrie, has said he will now take advice on mounting a private prosecution.

‘We need to ascertain why the local authority has decided not to prosecute," he said.

"Is the new combined Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council confirming to all parties and individuals that the rules surrounding tree felling and maintenance have now changed and that there is no longer any requirement to seek local authority approval to carry these activities out?

"Frankly, I’m astonished that protected trees can be felled over a two day period and there is no recourse. In a nation where the onus is to protect trees, where is the confidence in the legal process?"

Chief Executive of BCP Council, Graham Farrant, said he shared the frustrations of local residents and was hoping to meet with them as early as yesterday.

“We have sought external legal advice and it is very clear that the felling licence issued by the Forestry Commission outweighs any tree preservation order," he said. "The Forestry Commission appears to have made a serious error in not consulting with the council before granting the licence, which is regrettable, but as the licence has been granted it prevents the council from taking its normal course of action.

"As a result I am looking to convene an urgent meeting with the Chief Executives of the other organisations involved as soon as possible. I share the frustrations of local residents in this matter and am looking to meet with them today.”

General Manager of Parkstone Golf Club, Michael Serwicki said: "We had a felling licence to take down those trees signed off by the Forestry Commission and no error was made by the golf club. Unfortunately something went wrong in the application process which meant that Poole Council weren’t consulted. None of that was our fault. If we had made those errors, we would have put our hands up and said so."

He claimed Natural England has visited the golf club site - which is of special scientific interest, and: "One hundred per cent agreed that all the work we did was in the remit of the agreement we had with them."

He also denied allegations from some residents that the club had deliberately had the trees felled to improve the views from its clubhouse."The view from the clubhouse was already beautiful and has not been made more of less beautiful by the felling and I'm very clear on that," he said.