VANDALS have been accused of ‘murdering’ trees in a south east Northumberland village.
Nearly £60,000 worth of irreversible damage has been caused to the trees in Chipchase Court and the Bradbury areas of New Hartley after vandals stripped complete circles of bark off.
Members of Seaton Valley Parish Council have branded the act as sickening.
Coun Anita Romer said: “It is murder. I was sick at heart, in fact I was crying when I saw the calculated and surgical damage to these beautiful trees.
“The person or persons who did this knew exactly what to do in order to kill these trees.
“This is a calculated act and premeditated.
“I plead to the general public of New Hartley to come forwarded with any information which would lead to the arrest of the vandals.
“Your lovely village is now the worse off because of this destructive act.”
Coun Liz Vuyk added: “It is absolutely atrocious that something like this can be done.
“People have to remember that without trees we wouldn’t exist.
“These are mindless individuals – if they wanted something done then they could have come to the council and asked us.”
An anonymous benefactor has offered a reward of £100 for any information that leads to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for killing the trees.
Northumberland County Council inspected the trees and said four of them will have to be removed.
These include a mature cherry tree, which is approximately 40-years-old, a semi-mature cherry, approximately 30-years-old that would have had 20 to 40 years safe life expectancy remaining, a semi-mature cherry approximately 30-years-old that would have had 20 to 40 years safe life expectancy remaining, and a semi-mature Acer, which is also approximately 40-years-old but would have had a life expectancy of another 80 plus years.
Andy Rutherford, head of highways and neighbourhood services at Northumberland County Council, said: “Criminal damage to trees has enormous financial and environmental costs for communities.
“We are currently investigating this matter in conjunction with Northumbria Police.”
The county council will be working to remove the damaged trees and the tree stumps and will then replant trees.
The act of ‘ringing the trees’ is where a strip of bark is removed from around the trunk leaving a bare ring which then prevents the tree from moving water from the roots to the top along the inner bark.