Locals have accused millionaire homeowners in Dorset of killing two large oak trees by drilling into their trunks and injecting poison because they allegedly blocked their sea views.
The 70ft-tall mature specimens have had holes drilled into their trunks and poison poured inside in what has been described as a ‘shameful’ act of sabotage.
The two trees, believed to be around 80 years old, stand on the edge of a recreation ground between Poole Harbour and luxury homes that sell for between £2million to £3million each.
Residents only realised something was wrong when the trees failed to produce leaves earlier this year, looking completely bare compared to ones alongside them.
An examination by a council arboricultural officer confirmed the trees were dead and that foul play was to blame.
Now Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has reported the matter to the police and warned that the perpetrator could be prosecuted for criminal damage.
Over the last 10 years there has been a spate of similar attacks on trees in the exclusive suburbs that surround Poole Harbour, where homeowners pay a premium for properties with a sea view.
Locals only realised something was wrong when the trees (pictured above) failed to produce leaves earlier this year, looking completely bare compared to ones alongside them
An examination by a council arboricultural officer confirmed the trees were dead and that foul play was to blame. Pictured: One of the holes drilled into the trees
The most high profile case was that of a businessman who was fined £75,000 in 2012 for arranging to have a 50ft tall pine tree felled because it stood in the way of the views of the harbour from his hot tub.
The latest incident has occurred in the Whitecliff area that is filled with large, modern houses built on a hillside that have sea views or sea glimpses.
Residents today lined up to deny any knowledge of the attack and to criticise the ‘selfish vandalism’.
One man said: ‘We moved here in March and noticed that the two trees weren’t producing leaves like the others. It was obvious something was wrong with them.
‘Now we have received a letter from the council explaining that someone had drilled holes in the trees and poured a toxic liquid inside.
‘There are only a small numbers of houses along this road which would have a motive for getting rid of those two trees.
‘It is no way to give yourself a better view. It is quite shameful.
‘It is a real shame to lose two trees like that. They must have been here for decades but they’re never coming back now.’
Eunice Marsden, who lives close to the park, added: ‘Sadly it’s not the first time we have had an incident of someone killing trees over their view.
‘I think the neighbourhood feel if the police got some PCSOs knocking door to door I’m sure they would get some information.
John Challinor, the chairman of the Parkstone Bay Residents Association, pictured with residents next to the two dead oak trees. Mr Challinor said: ‘If everyone had the view they wanted, we wouldn’t have any trees’
Mr Challinor with one of the oak trees which had four holes drilled through its trunk. Residents lined up to deny any knowledge of the attack and to criticise the ‘selfish vandalism’
Another hole drilled into the trees. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has warned that the perpetrator could be prosecuted for criminal damage
‘It’s not general vandalism, it takes time to do and must have made a noise, someone probably has an idea of who it was.
‘To think it may be people who live here who has done it is worrying. People need to take action and track down who did it.’
Local councillor Ann Stribley said: ‘People are outraged. This is vandalism of the worst kind and is totally selfish.
‘Something like this is usually done by someone with a strategic view. If only we could find out who did it there would certainly be a prosecution, but you’ve got to be able to prove it.
‘I find it very difficult to find the words to describe people who do such a thing.
‘I hope the council will leave the dead tree there so it’s in their face as a reminder of their stupid and selfish actions.’
The two dead oak trees on Whitecliff Road in Poole, Dorset. Local councillor Ann Stribley said: ‘People are outraged. This is vandalism of the worst kind and is totally selfish’
The homes on Whitecliff Road in Poole, Dorset. Over the last 10 years there has been a spate of similar attacks on trees in the exclusive suburbs that surround Poole Harbour
John Challinor, chairman of the Parkstone Bay Residents Association, added: ‘It’s environmental vandalism. These trees take a long time to grow and add so much to the park and for wildlife.
‘I think the people that might benefit don’t think about the wider implications. It’s supposed to be a space for everybody to enjoy.
‘If everyone had the view they wanted, we wouldn’t have any trees.’
Another resident said: ‘We don’t know who would have done it. We don’t know anyone here that wants to see trees taken down.’
In a letter sent to locals appealing for information to help identify the culprit, Trevor Maynard, arboricultural officer at BCP Council, said: ‘It has come to our attention that two oak trees at Whitecliff recreation ground have died or are dying.
‘On inspection it is apparent that the trees have had holes drilled in their trunk, most likely, for the purpose of introducing a toxic substance with the intention of causing their destruction.
‘This action may constitute criminal damage and the perpetrator could be liable to prosecution. This incident has been reported to the police for them to investigate.
‘If you have any information to this incident or see anyone acting suspiciously please contact the police.’