Council chiefs have been backed after Green activists called for a halt to work on a multi-million pound park project over the number of trees which could be felled.
South Tyneside Tree Action Group (STTAG) say plans to revamp North Marine Park need to be reviewed urgently because they fear more mature trees than was discussed in consultations have been earmarked for the chop.
Workers have moved onto the site as part of plans to transform the park back to its former Victorian glory with the support of a £2.4million Heritage Lottery Grant.
Rachael Milne, founder member of the group, said: “Mature trees are the lungs of our town and as such we must keep them at all costs. The regeneration of the park can still go ahead and improvements made as well as keeping all healthy trees.
The council should be maintaining every single healthy, mature tree. These trees cost them next to nothing and they give back so much. Trees can’t keep being the first things to go.”
A council spokesman saidit has involved people and community groups throughout the process.
A spokesman added: “A fundamental part of the project is investment in trees. We involved independent arborists to look at the park’s overall tree population and have committed to planting more than 550 new trees to enhance the existing tree stock and deliver and attractive and sustainable environment.”
The dispute led to a large number of comments on The Gazette’s Facebook page.
John Barkas wrote: “They are replacing some of old unhealthy trees with new ones and also planting extra trees. On top of that, they’re spending money on doing up areas such as the bowling greens. It isn’t taking away from the park, it is improving it.”
Alex Jackson added: “If needed and part of the revamp plan, then do so. Plant others in the park or area to make up for it.”
Lianne Douglas disagreed, saying: “They’ve destroyed the North Marine Park by cutting down so many trees.”