FOUR tree saplings planted by schoolchildren at an Oxford hospital have been snapped in half by vandals.

Six months ago staff at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, in Headington, planted apple trees and woodland bulbs by the cycle path near Mattocks Close as part of a drive to combat carbon emissions.

Pupils from Windmill Primary School in nearby Margaret Road and members of the Low Carbon Headington group joined forces with the hospital to help.

But NOC staff were shocked when they went into work on Monday to find that four of the young apple trees, which had just started to blossom, had been snapped in half.

David Bascombe, head of estates at the NOC, said: “We are shocked and saddened at this mindless act of vandalism.

“The tree planting was a symbolic first step to mark our on-going joint commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and also provided a quiet area for staff, visitors and local residents to use.

“We have reported the incident to the police and are waiting for a meeting with local officers.”

He said: “We took the steps to become more proactive with our carbon responsibilities and worked closely with our neighbours and the local community to develop such plans.

“We are grateful to local residents who bound the trees back together – but it remains to be seen whether the damage done can be repaired.”

Oxford City Council paid £85 for each tree.

Low Carbon Headington member Mary Gill said: “We were extremely upset to see that the newly planted trees had been vandalised.

“It’s hard to think that someone would want to ruin them.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “No witnesses have come forward at this time.

“Anyone with any information about the incident should call the Headington south neighbourhood policing team on 08458 505505.”