Serious concerns have been raised for the region's forests after the discovery of four confirmed cases of ash dieback disease.
The fungal infection is threatening to wipe out Britain's ash population and has already caused a political storm over the Government's handling of the crisis.
The confirmed cases are in recently planted Ash sites near Richmond in North Yorkshire, Newton Aycliffe and Seaham in County Durham and Newcastle.
The disease is easily spread and it has sparked major worries for many more of the area's natural woodlands - especially in the Lake District National Park where there are significant ash populations.
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41-year-old Jayne Maughan from Middlesbrough used the £15,500 to fund her spending habits.