Police are investigating an act of environmental sabotage following an incident of tree poisoning in Morpeth.
Officers were alerted to the issue after concerns were raised about the suspected poisoning of eight mature lime trees.
The trees line the approach road to the St George development and the incident was flagged up by housing developers Galliford Try Partnership North East. .
Problems were first spotted late in autumn, while the company were building for their Linden Homes brand, and reported to arboricultural specialists for detailed assessments.
Research carried out by the specialists showed the trees, which are estimated to be around 100-years-old and are subject of no specific preservation orders, could not be saved and will die.
Developer director with Galliford Try Partnership North East, Sara Holmes, said: “We were shocked by what we discovered. These are beautiful specimens which really help create a majestic woodland feel at the entrance of the development.
“They were specifically signalled out for retention which we took possession of the site and they will be a great loss.
“It is extremely sad that someone would do this, we have reported the matter to the police and will assist to identify the culprits. We have advised Morpeth Town council and are liaising with Northumberland County Council about the next steps.”
The next steps are thought to include the felling of limes and replacing them with smaller standard specimens between the felled trees before growing season begins- all at the expense of the developers.
Experts believed that whoever carried out the poisoning would have made multiple visits to the site and possibly operated late in the evening. But Police investigations so far have revealed this may have been an ongoing incident over a two month period.
A Northumbria Police spokeswomen, said: “On December 13, 2016 police received initial reports of criminal damage to a to a number of trees on land owned by Linden Homes in Easter Field Court in Morpeth. It is believed this has happened over a two month period.”
The police investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.
Image: Newcastle Chronicle