Stevenage residents were left stunned yesterday as posters and council orders were discovered torn from trees in Box Wood – in what has been interpreted by some as an attempt to sabotage campaigners.

Community Facebook group Friends of Boxwood alerted its members to the behaviour, as residents discovered ripped posters and deliberately broken signs scattered around the woodland.

In recent days, campaigners have been erecting informational posters and notices, in an attempt to ward off any potential buyers of Box Wood.

The leasehold of the land is currently up for sale, and residents believe it is being primed for redevelopment.

READ MORE: Fears for ancient Stevenage woodland as plots go up for auctionThe designated Ancient Monument on the southern section of the land has been consistently omitted from adverts, and there are suspicions the seller is trying to stifle knowledge of the wood’s protected status to attract developers.

It is understood the signs were ripped down yesterday afternoon, roughly after 2pm, leading many to speculate they were removed prior to crucial site viewings.

Notices of a new Tree Preservation Order from East Herts Council have also been removed, and the illegal behaviour has been reported to the council.

A spokesperson for Friends of Boxwood said: “If you see any broken signs, strings or wires where signs have been, we would be grateful if you could remove them and dispose of them properly.

“Whoever is doing this has zero respect for Boxwood. Please be vigilant.”