People intending to carry out work on trees have been warned to first check they are not covered by a preservation order after a man was fined £600 for damaging a red horse chestnut.
The defendant, who did not attend when the case was heard at Chelmsford Magistrates Court last month, was also ordered to pay costs of £804.31 and a victim surcharge of £60.
After a member of the public alerted Epping Forest District Council about the damage to the tree at the entrance to a property in Bower Hill in January, the council’s tree specialist carried out an inspection.
They found a number of the tree’s roots had been severed and damaged by a mechanical digger and a saw. The court was told an attempt had been made to hide the work by smearing soil over the damage.
The council attempted to contact the owner of the property but was unable to speak to him. Despite telling workmen on the site to stop and sending a letter to the defendant, further work and tree damage was found when the officer re-visited the site on three subsequent occasions. As a result, the council started proceedings.
Councillor Gary Waller, Epping Forest Council’s portfolio holder responsible for tree, said: “Trees are a very important local asset and form a vital part of the fabric of our environment, as well as creating a habitat for wildlife.
“Tree preservation orders are made to protect trees that could be under threat, and nobody is permitted to carry out work without getting consent. We will seek to hold to account anyone who deliberately damages a protected tree.”