A local home owner has been fined £2,770 after cutting down some protected trees in his garden.
The owner of the home, in Magnolia Dene, Hazlemere, High Wycombe, employed a handyman to cut down two beech trees and an oak tree. The mature trees, which were protected by Tree Preservation Order (TPO), were cut down without permission in January 2014.
The case, which was heard at Wycombe Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 9th December 2015, resulted in a £1750 fine and the home owner was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £900 with a court fee of £120, totalling £2,770.
The handyman who cut the trees has been ordered to pay a £200 fine, a £15 court fee and has been given a conditional discharge.
A TPO is the tree equivalent of a listing for a historic or significant building and helps to protect a local landscape to ensure the tree is not cut down or pruned without special permission.
Younger replacement trees were subsequently planted at the property in March 2015, but as a result of the home-owners actions, these mature trees have now disappeared from the landscape forever.
Councillor David Johncock, WDC’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainability commented: ‘I am absolutely delighted with today’s decision by the magistrates.
Tree Protection Orders are an important way for us to protect trees that are particularly attractive and contribute to the appearance of our district. They are legally binding, as today’s case demonstrates.
We work hard to protect the special characteristics of our local area and our commitment is to take action against any unauthorised work carried out on a protected tree. We can and do prosecute.‘
It is illegal to cut down, prune or damage a tree with a preservation order without consent. This is an either way offence, so can be tried in either the magistrates or crown court.
An offence of felling or destroying a tree in breach of a TPO can result in a fine of up to £20,000 in the magistrates court, or an unlimited fine if the case goes to the crown court.
Further information and advice about trees can be obtained by contacting Wycombe District Council 01494 461 000.