Village’s tree vandals now facing fines

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EXTRA legal protection has been given to trees in a street hit by a series of vandal attacks that have left a handful of sycamores and cherry trees dead or dying over the last year.

Trees in Bristol Street in New Hartley have been ring-barked – the removal of a band of bark around the trunk’s complete circumference – leaving them unlikely to survive longer than a year.

Patches of dead grass revealed that a chemical had also been poured around the base of the trunks to further reduce the trees’ chances of survival.

Northumberland County Council’s south east area planning committee members last week slapped a preservation order on all the trees left in the street in an effort to prevent more attacks.

Anyone convicted of wilfully damaging a tree protected by a preservation order in a manner likely to destroy it can be fined £20,000 by magistrates or face an unlimited fine at crown court.

Committee members heard that a consultation carried out among villagers had yielded two objections to the preservation order, both from people living in the street in which the trees were damaged but at its other end.

Their main concern was possible interference with satellite TV signals.

Anita Romer, county councillor for the Hartley ward, said: “It made me cry actually, when I went to see those trees.”

She told the meeting at Blyth Isabella Centre: “I had a terrible phone call in June from one of the objectors, and it was extremely distressing for me.”

Another tree damaged in the village’s memorial garden has been removed and replaced by a rowan from the garden of Coun Romer’s Seaton Sluice home.