RESIDENTS’ fears over controversial tree felling at St Catherine’s Hill in Christchurch have been vindicated in a new report.

Homeowners on the hill have expressed concern over the large tree felling operation at the important wildlife site, saying it could have an effect on its water relations and lead to flooding or erosion.

And a recent hydrology study into the effects of the preservation work said concerns from residents about the tree cutting may not be without foundation and should be given proper consideration.

The report recommends a gradual and cautious approach to any proposed tree felling, particularly on sloping ground close to housing.

It says particular attention should be given to the size, shape and location of the tree felling areas.

Jim Biggin, chairman of West Christchurch Residents’ Association, said: “We are very grateful that we got a hydrology report.

“It is not really what we wanted but we understand the position the author found himself in.

“We will continue to press for as little felling as possible and almost none near people’s homes.”

St Catherine’s and Hurn ward councillor Sue Spittle, chairman of the steering group, said: “The hill is an internationally important wildlife area and a much valued resource for local recreation.

“The steering group is working together to bring forward a new plan for the nature reserve and a workable solution for its future management that fulfils statutory obligations and also considers the needs of local residents.”

The report was commissioned by a steering group made up of local organisations, working to devise a management plan for St Catherine’s Hill and Town Common.

A public consultation will be held on a draft management plan for the western side and top plateau of the hill next year.

To view the hydrology report, go to