Residents in Fethard, Co Tipperary, have expressed dismay following the felling of all broad-leafed trees on the streets in their village without notice from the local authority.
It prompted a protest rally attended by some 200 locals, who claimed Tipperary County Council was implementing "an over-rigorous policy of felling trees" because of insurance concerns.
A mix of nine mature and healthy acer, lime and cherry trees aged over 20 years were cut down.
Dr Alan Moore cited controversy about trees cut down in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, recently and said he was also aware of trees being felled in Carrick-on-Suir and in Cloneen in similar circumstances.
“In our experience, it is by no means unusual. We believe it’s a widespread problem in the country,” he added.
Dr Moore claimed the action was “at the behest of insurers who offer a reduced premium if trees are removed which might constitute a present or future claim hazard”.
“We now understand that such indiscriminate felling of roadside trees is taking place county and country-wide with councils interpreting the diktats of their insurers more or less drastically depending on the area.”
Tipperary County Council instructed a contractor to fell all the roadside trees in Fethard without prior warning or consultation with residents or their representatives, Dr Moore said.
While the local community had collaborated in the past with the council on developing local amenities, they wanted an undertaking that trees would replanted immediately, he said.
Dr Moore cited guidelines in South County Dublin where the local authority's tree management policy states: "Where trees are considered to be causing damage to paths or footpaths, the council will not normally consider tree removal except where there is a risk to public health which cannot otherwise be mitigated. Removal of the tree will usually be the last resort."
Tipperary County Council did not respond to a request for comment.
The removal two weeks ago of 15 mature broad-leafed trees dating from the 1970s that bordered Oakville Shopping Centre in Clonmel – which is owned by Dunnes Stores – provoked a number of complaints.
Mayor of Clonmel Borough District, Cllr Richie Molloy, said he had received a lot of complaints about the removal of the trees on visual and environmental grounds , especially their role in mitigating the impact of traffic pollution.
He told the Nationalist newspaper that a constituent had been told by Dunnes Stores that “following a review, trees were identified as diseased and/or dangerous. As part of the works required a full replanting proposal is scheduled, which will include trees and shrubs.”
A tree-felling licence is not required in cases where trees are deemed to be diseased or pose a potential health and safety risk to the public.