MAITLAND Heritage Guardians have an axe to grind with Maitland City Council, following the lopping of a tree on the grounds of Cintra House.
The conservation group contacted the Mercury to voice their frustration over the shearing of a mature lemon scented gum at the state heritage listed Cintra House on March 12.
Founder Chris Richards claims the tree is part of the property's state heritage protection and the actions were "illegal".
It is a claim council strongly denies.
"It is part of a state listed heritage garden … they've effectively cut it in half," Mr Richards said. "Maitland Council had no legal right to give approval to the owners to chop that tree back, it should have had approval from the State Heritage Office."
It comes just weeks after an estimated 200-year-old fig tree was removed on private land in Rutherford.
Mr Richards added the group is "demanding an apology from council", and wanted to see development applications for tree alterations or removals as part of council's Local Environment Plan (LEP).
"We did an investigation. In certain zones, you don't need approval to cut a tree down of any size or any significance," he said.
"Maitland Council has little to no interest in heritage and conservation."
But Maitland Council's development and environment officer David Simm said Council already includes tree removal in its LEP.
"For heritage conservation areas and listed heritage items a development consent is required for all tree removal and lopping," he said.
"Council was informed about the lopping by means of a formal application and gave development approval for the works to take place subject to conditions of consent needing to be complied with. Lopping was required ‘to mitigate high risk of building damage associated with sudden branch drop or weather event incident’.
"All trees within Heritage Conservation Areas have a level of protection and development consent is required for their removal or lopping."
A spokesperson for the Office of Environment and Heritage said the agency was "looking into the matter".
"OEH has received a report of the lopping of a lemon scented gum from the property owner of the state heritage register listed Cintra House in Maitland."