Sixteen protected trees are being chopped down beside a Kilmarnock primary school after they were damaged during building work.
On Wednesday, tree surgeons started to fell the Limes, which are more than 100 years old, at Loanhead Primary school.
East Ayrshire Council wants them all removed before pupils return to school next Wednesday, April 21, citing safety concerns.
The roots were damaged during landscaping as part of £4m building work which has made them unstable.
Labour councillor Barry Douglas said: “The trees had a tree preservation order on them. They have been there for 120 years and add to the character of the area.
“Sadly, due to work by a contractor, the roots are damaged. I understand we have to put safety first. But I want to know if any of these trees can be saved.
“I am disturbed this has been allowed to happen.”
The Kilmarnock East and Hurlford councillor wants to know who is paying to cut down the trees and for replacement planting. He believes the contractor should take responsibility.
He added: “Why should the council taxpayer be left with the burden of cost?”
It is understood Ashleigh Scotland was hired to carry out the building works on Loanhead Primary.
A tree survey commissioned by the council found there is a risk the trees could be blown down in high winds.
The local authority intends to replace them with five-metre high semi-mature trees of a similar species.
There will be partial closures of Loanhead Street and Dick Road in the town during the felling.
Andrew Kennedy, the council’s head of facilities and property management said: “During the final stages of landscaping works as part of the refurbishment and extension of the school, damage has been caused to the roots of lime trees along the site boundaries.
“This affects eight trees at the Loanhead Street boundary and eight trees at the Dick Road boundary. This recent damage has compounded some existing issues with the root structure of these trees and safety remains our number one priority.”
He continued: “Regrettably, these well-established trees will now have to be removed on safety grounds and we have appointed a specialist tree surgeon to undertake these works.
“During works over the coming days, if there is further evidence that some trees can be saved we will do this. We will also ensure ecological checks as work progresses, to mitigate any impact on wildlife.”
Mr Kennedy said the school will be consulted on replacement planting and a retrospective planning application must be lodged for the felling of the trees.
He added: “We appreciate that this will have a significant impact on the outlook from neighbouring households, but we hope our residents understand the pressing circumstances and the need for us to take this action now.”
Building work on Loanhead Primary included an extension and refurbishment.
Story by local democracy reporter Sarah Hilley