Police hunt tree poisoner who killed off row of century old limes

Police are investigating an act of environmental sabotage following an incident of tree poisoning in Morpeth
Police are investigating an act of environmental sabotage following an incident of tree poisoning in Morpeth Credit: Tim McGuinness/ncjMedia Ltd

A tree poisoner killed off century old lime trees in an act of environmental sabotage, police have revealed.

Officers were alerted to the issue in Morpeth, Northumberland, 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.

It is extremely sad that someone would do this. We have reported the matter to the police and will assist to identify the culpritsSara Holmes

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.

Sara Holmes, developer director with Galliford Try Partnership North East, 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 singled out for retention when 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.

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.

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