QUEEN guitarist Dr Brian May is behind the creation of a new forest of more than 100,000 trees near Bradford on Avon.

Contractors working for Tilhill Forestry are planting a mixture of native British trees close to the ancient woodland at Inwoods, which runs down the beautiful Limpley Stoke Valley and was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1988.

It is understood the 71-year-old legendary lead guitarist of the rock group, who is known to be a keen countryside campaigner, has bought the land and is planting the trees as part of huge conservation project.

He is the co-founder of the Save Me Charity, whose slogan in Giving Wild Animals a Voice, and has often spoken out in the campaign against badger culling as a way to defeat TB in cattle.

Brian Marlow, a Monkton Farleigh parish councillor, said: “The tree planting is very impressive. Whoever is doing it obviously has very deep pockets.”

Another parish councillor, who did not wish to be named, said: “Local people are saying that it’s a good thing. There are men working there virtually every day and the comments that I have heard locally are all favourable.”

There are already 58 hectares (143 acres) of ancient woodland at Inwoods, which lies on a flat plateau overlooking the valley and borders Warleigh Woods.

The woods are crossed by a public footpath from Conkwell to Warleigh Lane and Farleigh Wick which is popular with local walkers.

Planting trees at Inwoods does not need planning permission, and it is understood the new forest will be a mix of native British species, including oak, red oak, lime, blackthorn and hawthorn.

The contractors from Cumbria, who work for Stirling-based Tilhill Forestry, one of the UK’s leading forestry management companies, are also working in part of the ancient Inwoods to create more open spaces and plant new saplings.

They have already coppiced part of the woods and installed deer fencing around a new forestry plantation which fronts the A363 Bath Road.

Last year, councillors approved two planning applications to build a lake and wildlife area and to divert a footpath away from one of the houses on the estate.

Dr May is a long-term champion of woodland as a haven and “corridor” for wildlife, both in Surrey, where he has a house, and elsewhere. In 2012, he bought land threatened by building development at Bere Regis, Dorset and initiated a project to create a new 157-acre wood with 100,000 trees, now called May’s Wood.