AN iconic clump of trees soon to be felled in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are to be replaced following protests.

The Seven Sisters feature of beech trees on Cothelstone Hill, on the Quantock Hills is to be maintained, the Friends of Quantock announced The original seven trees, planted around 40 years ago, are for the chop due to concerns about potential damage to a scheduled ancient monument.

Following the announcement, the Friends received a flood of enquiries from people concerned at the loss of such a popular landmark and the matter was discussed with English Heritage and Natural England.

That led to an agreement for a comprehensive scheme for the protection of the hilltop will now be prepared and put in place.

The project will include the planting of a new clump and a phased felling of trees that pose a threat to the archaeology.

A spokeswoman said: “This will ensure the preservation of the Seven Sisters both as a focal point for the hill and as an iconic silhouette when viewed from a distance.

“There will be a survey to establish the best location from a landscape perspective for a replacement clump, and to investigate in more detail the extent and nature of the heritage features.

“The whole scheme will be made public and it is hoped that there will be opportunities for the general public to be involved and take part in the survey work.”

Friends of Quantock chairman Alan Hughes said: “We would like to express our appreciation of the co-operation of English Heritage, Natural England, Somerset County Council and the AONB Service in achieving a satisfactory outcome from a difficult situation with conflicting interests.

"We shall continue to work with them for the protection of our beloved hills.”