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AMEC is a good company with high standards, so it is not surprising that Transco should have taken it on to do work in Bury St Edmunds.

Roadworks are never popular and there will always be people out there willing to criticise - even more so when there are trees involved.

Amec's environmental reputation must therefore have been a contributory factor to the company's success in landing the contract for pipe repairs in this medieval cathedral town.

It was all the more surprising, then, when Suffolk County Council found that a digger bucket had sliced through the roots of a line of trees, causing so much damage that work had to be halted and four 30-yearold whitebeams cut down because they posed a danger to the public.

On closer examination it seems likely there will be further casualties, for it is fairly certain that a further nine whitebeams, maples and ashes will have to come down.

Not surprisingly, the locals are furious and the district and county councils are very angry too. For a town that is proud of its planting, to lose mature trees is particularly galling and Amec has certainly not heard the last of this episode. For the rest of us, it just reminds everyone how easy it is to make such mistakes and how long-lasting the damage can be.

The sensitivities that surround urban trees have been real impediments to the activities of the cable companies and this latest episode will only serve to heighten the fears of campaigners.

Amec should come clean about what happened so that it can learn the lessons quickly and share them with its competitors too.

The whole industry suffers if people believe that the industry leaders can't be trusted.