A landlord is counting the cost of cutting down parts of three English oak trees without permission from the council.
Shabbir Ahmad, of Winchester Road in Tilgate, appeared at Crawley Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Wednesday, October 1) charged with causing or permitting the lopping of trees in breach of the Tree Preservation Order.
Ahmad pleaded guilty and magistrates fined him £3,000 and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £120 and £1,000 towards prosecution costs.
The 44-year-old was fined after he instructed contractors to carry out works to three protected English oak trees in the garden of a property he owns in Hawth Close, Southgate, without securing permission from the council.
The works were carried out so poorly that there is a chance the trees may not survive.
Works to protected trees require planning permission, with an application having to be made to Crawley Borough Council.
The council also offers a free web-based service where enquiries can be made about which trees are subject to preservation orders.
The offence of carrying out unauthorised works to trees is committed whether or not the individual knows the existence of an order.
Councillor Colin Lloyd, cabinet member for environment, said: “These oaks and other trees in Crawley are protected because they are important to the residents in the area, they are part of the historic fabric of the town, and impressive or attractive specimens add to the appeal of Crawley’s landscape.
“Once a tree is altered, or in the worst case cut down, it is lost forever. Which is why we take action and why the magistrates have imposed such a heavy fine.”
Anyone planning to trim or cut down a tree completes the online form at www.crawley.gov.uk/trees to establish the situation before commencing work.