A tree surgeon has been fined for cutting down a protected specimen without permission.
Cheltenham Borough Council gave permission to prune a privately-owned hornbeam tree in Hillfield in the St Mark’s area of Cheltenham.
But Sean Bartley, of Sandhurst Lane, in Gloucester, has been fined £764 for cutting it down to a 10-foot stump.
Mr Bartley pleaded guilty to the charge when he faced Cheltenham magistrates last month.
He said he decided to cut the tree down to the stump after he noticed a split in the main trunk. But he kept no record of the split and did not take photographs of it to provide evidence. Nor did Mr Bartley tell the borough council of the actions that he took.
Tree experts from the council have said that the mature hornbeam is unlikely to survive being cut back to a 10-foot high stump.
Chris Chavasse, the council’s senior trees officer said: “While we are clearly disappointed that a fine tree has been destroyed, we are satisfied that this contractor has had to pay for the consequence of his actions.
“I hope that this could be seen as a warning to all tree surgeons and landscape operatives that this council takes unsanctioned work to protected trees very seriously and is willing to prosecute guilty parties where appropriate.”
Councillor Chris Coleman, cabinet member for clean and green environment at the borough council, added: “We have a strong commitment to protect Cheltenham’s environment and so I am pleased with the outcome of this case.”
Mr Bartley was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press today.
Applications must be made to the planning department of local councils before any work can be undertaken on any tree subject to a tree preservation order (TPO) whether they are on public land or private. Anyone can apply to a local planning department to make a TPO, although normally only trees over 3.5 metres in height.