Tyne & Wear

Newcastle City Council defends tree-chopping figures

Felled trees in Newcastle
Image caption Campaigners say housing developments have led to the loss of many trees and shrubs

A North East council has cut down almost 8,500 trees over the past three years - nearly twice as many as any other local authority in the UK.

Newcastle City Council felled 8,414 trees, ahead of Wiltshire with 4,778 and Edinburgh with 4,435.

The council said they are only cut "for good reason or necessity" with replanting schemes required in most cases.

Environmental campaigners called it "devastating" and "excessive".

The figures were obtained as part of a Freedom of Information request submitted by The Sunday Times.

The council said trees are only felled where they are dead, diseased or dangerous or because of new development projects.

The authority estimates there are 800,000 trees in the city and said Newcastle "has a proud collection of parks and open spaces".

'Tragic' loss

"When trees are removed, the council plants at least one more, typically following a 2:1 replanting programme, though this itself is often exceeded," it said.

"At the Killingworth Road project, for example, some 500 trees and shrubs were removed but around 2,400 will be replanted."

Save Newcastle Wildlife coordinator Rachel Locke said: "This is devastating news.

"Tree cover in Newcastle is already well below the national average, which makes this loss all the more tragic.

"Newcastle is earmarked for another 19,000 houses by 2030 and this will likely see further loss of trees, hedgerows and green space."

The group has launched an online petition calling on the council to "reverse the harm caused by years of excessive tree felling".

The figures given to The Sunday Times revealed about 110,000 trees have been cut down nationally in three years.

In Sheffield, the council has been embroiled in a battle with protesters over plans to chop down up to 17,500 trees; there have been 3,529 felled since 2015.

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