CONCERN is growing over men carrying machetes who have been chopping down trees on Halesowen greenbelt which is a site of importance to nature conservation.

A petition has been started after a small parcel of Coombeswood Green Wedge off Greenhill Road was bought at auction.

Since the purchase men have been seem chopping down trees with machetes - prompting an angry reaction from "outraged" locals who have started a petition calling for action to stop them.

The petition, which can be seen by clicking here, has been signed by more than 700 people.

It states: "A small part of Coombeswood Wedge has been bought at auction by non Dudley residents.

"They’re accessing their plot in an inappropriate manner, carrying machetes around in public areas.

"They are destroying wildlife habitat (bats, owls and badgers) and have blatant disregard for “greenbelt” status.

"Their intentions are unclear, other than they told us “we’re building a mansion.”

"They’ve already chopped down protected trees and have weekly “sessions” including bonfires.

"We are outraged that no one is stopping this.

"Please sign the petition.

"I hope that if there is sufficient public outcry, then the council and the police will be forced to take legal action."

Councillor Stuart Henley said: "For a few months now locals have been in touch about the area that's been brought off Greenhill.

"The council and police are keeping an eye on this and visiting the site.

"Also James Morris is keeping an eye on proceedings with this land.

"Tree Protection Officer in Planning and Regen is looking into this.

"Although the site is private, it has SINC status (Site of Importance to Nature Conservation), hence the council’s involvement.

"You can also take part in a petition that's been set up by locals."

Cllr Henley shared the above picture on his social media of a portion of the wedge where trees had been cleared stating: "This is how the site has been decimated so far."

Councillor Simon Phipps, Dudley Council's cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “Officers are currently looking into this as a matter of urgency, and will respond once that investigation is complete.”