Green activists are calling on council chiefs to halt work on a multi-million pound park project and re-think the number of trees to 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.
“They have taken over 40 years at least to reach the heights they are at now and it is a crime they could be felled at will.
“The regeneration of the park can still go ahead and improvements made as well as keeping all healthy trees.
A fundamental part of the restoration project is investment in trees which is why we involved independent arborists to look at the park’s overall tree population.Council spokesman
“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.”
The group fears that plans to plant new trees will be futile - saying that they have a 50 per cent chance of survival - a figure disputed by the council.
The council say failures of up to 5% are expected, and those trees will be replaced.
A council spokesman said: “The council has been working on the bid to restore North Marine Park since 2015 and has involved the public and community groups throughout the entire process.
“This has included a series of consultation events, from initial ideas and concepts right through to the design and planning stages to develop a sympathetic programme that matches the ambitions of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“A fundamental part of the restoration project is investment in trees, which is why 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.
“This process identified weaker specimens, including those that are deceased, decaying or potentially dangerous as well as largely self-sown trees that currently restrict the health and growing conditions of higher quality planted trees. It is important we have a healthy tree stock for future generations to enjoy.
“We have met with STTAG to discuss the plans and about how they can get involved in the community planting days in the future.”