A steel installation, replacing the traditional Christmas tree, is illuminated at Brussels' Grand Place November 29, 2012. The 25-metre high sculpture was designed by French architects Pier Schneider and Francois Wunschel. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Brussels - Brussels will remove a controversial electronic Christmas tree in the main square early for fear that New Year's Eve revellers will seek to climb on it or vandalise it.

The city placed a 24-metre high light installation broadly in the form of a Christmas tree in the city centre instead of the usual authentic tree, a move that has so far led 25,000 people to sign an online petition against it.

Some critics have said the electronic tree was chosen so as to avoid offending non-Christians. The city itself says the choice was in keeping with its theme this year of light.

Nevertheless, the structure will not be left until early January as was the case with its traditional predecessors, but will be dismantled on December 28.

“It's because the electronic tree takes up too much space and is difficult to secure, taking into account the crowd that will be in the Grand Place,” said Olivier Mees, director of the organisation responsible for the square, on Tuesday. - Reuters