A VOLUNTEER is waging a battle to save more than 30 trees which are to be removed from a North Shields park.
Northumberland Park is set to lose some of its 1,500 trees after North Tyneside Council gave the green light to cut them down as part of their £5.2 million park restoration project.
More than £2.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund was awarded to the park as part of the authority’s Excellent Parks Programme and will allow the reinstatement and restoration of lost features, such as the fountain, band stand and street furniture.
It will also help create new visitor facilities for the park, which lies between Tynemouth and North Shields and was opened in 1885, and comprised of woodland areas, formal gardens, pond, bowling greens and a play site.
Graham Buglass, who has volunteered at the park for two years, however, is urging the council not to cut down 31 healthy trees, some of which have been there for thousands of years, merely for “cosmetic reasons”.
The 49-year-old said: “It’s an abuse really.”
“For them to say they are taking them out because they are getting in the way is not a valid reason in my mind.
“Taking trees out for cosmetic reasons is just wrong.
“Once the felling is done there is going to be a lot of bare areas.
“The wildlife are bound to be affected.
“I would like to see people contact the council and say no felling of the healthy trees.
“I support the development but taking out healthy trees to give people a view is wrong.
“The yew trees are meant to be there and when they were planted people knew they were going to live for thousands of years.”
Work will get under way in the autumn and will be completed by late 2015.
A spokesman for North Tyneside Council said: “Our £5.2 million revitalisation of Northumberland Park aims to restore its lost features as well as provide essential new visitor facilities.
“As part of the improvement plans, we have taken advice from independent experts about how to successfully manage and maintain the park’s existing population of around 1,500 trees.
“Their recommendations include proposals to remove some trees because of their health and removing others to help recreate the park’s original appearance by restoring historic views, such as of the Bedding Bank by the lake.
“Throughout our 18 month consultation with residents and park users, we have been clear that some tree removal would be necessary although the project will feature a considerable amount of new tree planting too.
“Indeed, our £2.2 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was successful primarily because we are restoring the park back to how it was.
“Other HLF projects, such as at Jesmond Dene in Newcastle and Saltwell Park in Gateshead, featured tree removal as an essential part of their restoration.”