LANDOWNERS have complained to an electricity company after trees were felled without their permission.

John and Maggie Downie claim NEDL felled four 30ft willows at Beechburn Farm, The Hollow, near Crook, on the authorisation of a neighbour and not themselves.

They say the company should have checked the ownership of the trees, which are clearly marked inside their boundaries on official Land Registry plans.

Mrs Downie was alerted by chance when a tree surgeon called during the half-term holiday to confirm ownership of other trees due to be felled.

NEDL routinely checks tree growth to prevent branches coming into contact with overhead lines.

She said: "I found out by chance that my neighbour Fred Wilson had signed a consent form when the trees belong to us. Why are NEDL sending people out to find the owners of land and taking on trust what they are told rather than checking documents they should have themselves?

"The boundaries between our land and Mr Wilson's property are very clear.

"These trees belonged to us and others could have gone without our permission if the tree surgeon had not checked," she said.

Mr Wilson declined to comment on the situation last night.

NEDL issued a statement which read: "We acted in good faith and on the information given to us in relation to land access and permission to carry out tree management work.

"Staff from our wayleaves department are hoping to arrange a meeting with Mrs Downie this week to discuss the matter further."