A tree that was the victim of an apparent chemical attack has been felled after it became “clear it would not survive”.
Environmental campaigners in Newcastle were left shocked in April 2020 when a vandal allegedly doused the tree in a toxic substance, which they believed to be glyphosate weedkiller.
The perpetrator appeared to have stepped in the chemicals themselves and left a trail of footprints away from the scene in Windsor Way, Kingston Park.
A year later, Newcastle City Council decided to chop the mature ash down and confirmed that no culprit was ever identified, despite a plea for people to come forward with information about the sad incident.
A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said: “Across Newcastle we are planting many thousands of trees, with the aim of increasing the canopy cover from what is already more than 12% above the national average, to 20% of city land by 2050.
“To do that requires not just new planting, but ongoing careful management of the hundreds of thousands of trees we already have.
“Our inspections have recently identified a number of trees that are diseased, dead or dying and so – following a formal process - we have removed them in the interests of public safety.
“That includes a tree in the Kingston Park area that last year was the victim of an alleged chemical attack.
“As we said at the time, it is extremely concerning that someone could seek to cause this kind of damage to a tree, but our powers of investigation in matters like this are limited and with nobody coming forward with information, no culprit was ever identified.
“Having monitored the tree for signs of ill-health it was clear it would not survive and so the decision was taken to remove it before it became a danger to anyone.
“However, people can rest assured that for every tree we have to remove in our city another will be replanted, in a suitable location.”
The city council announced last week that more than 31,000 new trees were planted in Newcastle in 2019/20.
That means that, if all those trees were to grow to maturity, the council would have rapidly exceeded a target of having an extra 19,000 trees by 2050 – an aim that was labelled “embarrassingly unambitious” in 2019.
Of the new trees, 30,000 were planted on the Newcastle Great Park housing site by developers, with a further 1,873 were planted from the council and 93 by Urban Green Newcastle elsewhere in the city.
In January 2020, the city’s Liberal Democrat opposition called for 290,000 trees to be planted, one for every person in Newcastle.
That suggestion was labelled unrealistic by city Labour councillors, who instead committed to planting a whip for every newborn child – around 6,000 per year.