A group of trees have been placed under an emergency protection order after it was reported someone drilled holes in them and poured in weed killer.

Midlothian Council acted after receiving reports of the action taken just months after they called in law officers over the ‘wilful destruction’ of two other trees on the land.

A report to councillors this week reveals officers found at least a dozen trees at Newbattle road, Eskbank, had 10mm holes near their bases and a five-litre pressure spray bottle containing a ‘pink liquid’ on the site.

In November last year the local authority’s planning committee authorised officers to contact the procurator fiscal’s office after trees were felled on the land without planning permission and a planning notice was ignored.

A report this week reveals that despite issuing a cease notice on the land, it was reported in December that weed killer had been fed to trees and in January the council received planning applications for work on the trees including felling and pruning for health and safety or structural reasons.

The report says: “The council considered that the proposed works are likely to be detrimental to the landscape amenity of the Newbattle Conservation Area, the NewbattleAbbey Gardens and Designed Landscape and the setting and amenity of adjacent dwellings, without recourse to secure replacement planting.

“As a consequence, an emergency TPO (Tree Preservation Order) was issued – on this basis any support for a work to tree application can secure replacement planting.”

The case regarding the felled trees is ongoing.