It’s only recently that I learnt that you can burn rrhododendron wood.. I always thought it acrid or poisonous.I concur; I have had three professionals spend all day taking down a very large ash tree for far less than £1,000 and two clearing a large fallen oak for hundreds. However, if there's no money to do the job, it will have too be the slow (wo)man-power way! I must say I have never known a rural environment as 'selfish' as the one you describe though - I am appalled!
BTW, there is no evidence that the toxin in Rhododendron is carried in the smoke when it's burnt; they are destroyed in the heat.