Council and my hedge

I have a hedge that bourders the road with a willow tree growing in it. Every year the will and the hedge gets bird nests. Sadly this year we have had issues with a neighbour as I refused to cut another tree due to a birds nest which ended up with criminal damage and police coming round due to abuse on there part. Now they have got the council involved with my front hedge saying as its near a path it needs to be cut back or I will be fined. I have told there there are birds nests and the council shouted down the phone at us. Too me this is breaking the animal act from 1981 (i think i got that right) but they dont seem to get this. You can still physically walk past the hedge and there are 2 paths one either side of this slow road. Any help is appreciated.