Trees and shrubs have been removed from Leigh cliffs as the council prepares for major work to stabilise the area and reduce the risk of landslides.
The council has cleared a large section of Cliff Parade to bare earth, with residents reporting seeing large cracks appearing in sections of the pavement.
The greenery needed to be removed so the council could investigate what works are needed, while badger setts found on the cliffs are being moved to minimise further damage.
A Southend council spokesman said: “This work is the first phase of a complex piece of structural work to stabilise the cliffs.
“We need to carry out investigative works to determine exactly what work is required, but before that we needed to clear the area we are assessing.
“Working with Natural England we have safely and humanely closed off the badger sett, encouraging the animals to move elsewhere.
“To do this we also had to remove Elm scrub to clear the area, which would have to be removed as part of the stabilisation work anyway.”
“Tree roots are only helpful for shallow surface movement whereas the works will provide protection against deep slippages, which is why this maintenance work is essential for the area to protect the cliffs.”
Frustrated residents had previously been blocked from chopping down the trees to improve their sea views.
Residents took to the Once-Upon-a-Tree Facebook page to air their concerns over subsidence and a lack of communication from the council.
Richard Longstaff from the tree conservation group said: “We know there is a huge crack in the footpath, some kind of subsidence.
“We don’t know what the procedures are but the council has been doing stabilizing work in other areas of Leigh at quite some cost.
“I think the area has been surveyed but it would have been helpful if there had been some kind of notification so we could put it on our Facebook page to give people information. There is anxiety about natural habitats. People get anxious when it gets taken out for, in their minds, for no justifiable reason.”