Walkers have been left “shocked” by the extent of clearance work along a river carried out by a supplier of cricket bat wood.

About a quarter of a mile of trees and hedgerows have been cut back along the River Blackwater in Bocking on the opposite side to Braintree’s Fairview estate, according to residents.

Jeremy Ruggles is one of the directors of willow wood suppliers Wright and Sons of Great Leighs and owns the land with his cousin.

Willow trees are grown and cut every year to make the bats.

Mr Ruggles said: “These tree will be replaced next December and we will put extra ones in as well.

“We had a licence to do the recent work and a burning certificate.

“We did cut some hedges back to make room for more trees, we just left it too long this year.”

Retired John Parish, who photographed the scene, said: “This was a beautiful natural screen on the Bocking side of the river.

“They have always done a good job and I think 10 out of 10, but this year I have never seen such devastation.”