AN ICONIC row of mature horse chestnut trees could be pruned back to make way for the Needles Breezer bus.

Freshwater Parish Council has been ordered by Island Roads to prune the trees, which overhang the highway, but councillors say the work will be expensive, could harm the trees and the new bus route is not needed.

The bus route has changed this year, to include Queens Road where the trees are situated, but has since been diverted because of the size of the 'conker' trees.

The parish council doesn't want the bus to use the route at all, which would save pruning the trees.

Cllr Anne Bamford said: "The people of Freshwater shouldn't have to pay for work to be done on these trees, we feel as a parish is not needed.”

"It seems a nonsense on all levels — public funds, tree preservation and common sense — to require this work so tourists don't have to walk a few hundred metres extra to see something which is closed, Farringford, and can't really be seen properly from the road.

"We have to have this work done just so the Breezer bus can use this narrow residential road, which has two pinch points."

The council has received a statutory order to prune ten trees, at a likely cost of thousands of pounds plus the fee for an overnight road closure.

The trees, planted in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII, are part of a group of 32 spanning three Freshwater roads. Councillors fear at least one of those earmarked for pruning will not survive the work.

An Island Roads spokesperson said: “Following a routine survey, a number of trees were identified in Queens Road, with low hanging branches which were causing an obstruction and posing a potential safety risk to road users.

"We therefore wrote to the parish council, as the landowner, in March, in accordance with standard highway procedures with details of the branches that needed removal to allow the safe passage of vehicles.

“It should be noted that the bus service has temporarily been suspended along this route due to these obstructions.

"These tree branches pose a problem for not only the buses, but also other high-sided vehicles including refuse collection vehicles, coaches, fire engines, removal and delivery vehicles etc, which either do, or may need to, use this route.

"The presence of low hanging branches may also prevent the use of this route, should it be needed, to help divert traffic in the event of an accident, street works or other local incident."

Richard Tyldsley, Southern Vectis general manager, said: "The Needles Breezer is currently being diverted because we are unable, for safety reasons, to operate the route unless some of the branches are cut back.

"They do not have to be removed, just cut back to allow vehicles to pass safely. We hope this can be done soon, so we can resume operating the route local people and visitors expect to travel along.”