TREES along the bank of the River Thames at Osney Lock, Oxford, are to be trimmed back for safety reasons.

A team of specialist tree surgeons from the Environment Agency will start the process of trimming a row of willow trees along the path on Monday.

Paul Smith, waterways operations team leader, said: "After a routine inspection of the trees, we found that some of those on the west bank downstream of Osney Lock needed a trim to protect the safety of the people who walk cycle and jog along here.

"As well as overhanging the towpath, some of the larger branches are beginning to spread over the river to a point where they could interfere with boat traffic."

It is expected that the pollarding will be carried out in two stages, each taking around two weeks.

Branches needing immediate attention will be pruned before birds begin nesting and another final trim will be made towards the end of August.

Mr Smith said: "Working in two stages is more environmentally sustainable than completing the job in one go.

"While providing a home to the wildlife residents when they need it in the spring and summer months, the trees themselves will begin regenerating new growth between trims, helping them remain strong and healthy."

Mr Smith said it was not planned to close the towpath while the work was carried out but walkers and cyclists might be asked to wait for a few moments while branches were being safely lowered to the ground.

Osney residents were up in arms in November after Oxford City Council workers cut down 11 trees in Osney Island which they claimed could have been pollarded but Cllr Susanna Pressel said she had been informed of the Environment Agency's plans and believed the safety issues were being dealt with in the appropriate way.