Authorities have uncovered a spate of rogue tree-felling in Walton in recent days, sparking a fierce backlash and prompting a police investigation.

Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) and Surrey Police issued a joint statement yesterday (Wednesday, April 8) saying they had received reports of "at least 20" instances of trees being cut down with chainsaws around the Cowey Sale area of Walton.

The reports were received on March 28, and EBC posted images online purporting to show two instances of the tree-felling.

In both cases, trees severed near their stumps and left lying across footpaths were clearly visible.

In their joint statement, EBC and Surrey Police thanked people in the community for alerting them to the issue and said "patrols" were taking place to monitor the situation.

Elmbridge Borough Commander Inspector Bert Dean meanwhile described the tree-felling as "mindless" and suggested it had caused residents in the area significant distress.

"I do not underestimate the impact this mindless damage has on the local community as well as the risk it has posed to motorists by obstructing roads," he said.

"We are looking at every opportunity to identify who is responsible for this and will continue to work closely with Elmbridge Borough Council to tackle this issue.

"If you have any information which could help, and you have not already got in touch, please contact us," Dean added.

In most instances it is illegal to cut down trees in the UK without permission or a specific licence.

According to official government advice on the issue:

"It’s an offence to fell trees without a licence if an exemption does not apply.

"Everyone involved in the felling of trees (the owner, agent and timber merchant or contractor) must ensure that a licence has been issued before any felling is carried out, unless they are certain that one of the exemptions apply.

"If there’s no licence or other valid permission, or if the wrong trees are felled, anyone involved can be prosecuted."