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6,000 trees axed to prevent sex romps in forest

world Updated: Mar 23, 2010 14:16 IST

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As many as 6,000 trees have been felled in a forest near a British town to prevent couples from having sex there, a media report said.

The trees were hacked at the 12-hectare site on the outskirts of Darwen, Lancashire, after a "health and safety survey", Daily Express reported Tuesday.

Officials say the forest that runs for kilometres along the busy A666 was cleared as some of the trees, planted after the Second World War, were in danger of falling.

Police and councillors have, however, confirmed another reason was to discourage strangers from the known "dogging" area.

Dogging is a term for people having sex with strangers in public places, or watching others have sex, often in woods or country lay-bys.

The felling of 6,000 trees to try to stop couples having sex there has prompted an angry backlash.

"It's awful that a public green space, an asset to the local community, has been destroyed mindlessly. If the law was enforced properly then there would be no need to chop down these trees," Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, was quoted as saying.

Ali­stair Foster, an environmentalist, said: "It is such a terrible thing to do. Old trees do not just fall down. What next, chop down 300-year-old oak trees in case they suddenly fall over one day? And to do it to reduce people having sex in the woods is farcical."

Terry Hardman, who travels past the clearance site every day, said the work had "absolutely devastated the area", adding: "There was a massive forest that's been reduced to open space. Surely that can't be good for the environmental situation?"

Sergeant Mark Wilson said the sexual activities in the area were "an on-going problem and very worrying for members of the public". "It's far too early to tell if cutting the trees back has had any impact on the dogging situation, but we'll be paying regular attention to the area."

"I'm more than happy this is being carried out and it has a double whammy in terms of the sexual behaviour. I've heard anecdotally that since the trees have been cleared it's quietened down a lot," ward councillor Jean Rigby was quoted as saying.