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    Man fined £2,600 for lopping and felling protected trees

    Martin Marston pleaded guilty to five counts of tree lopping and one count of felling

    A man has been fined more than £2,600 for lopping and felling protected trees within the Wargrave Conservation Area, near Reading.

    Martin Marston, carried out works to the trees without permission from Wokingham Borough Council.

    Marston pleaded guilty to five counts of lopping (removing large branches), and one count of felling a tree when he appeared before Reading Magistrates’ Court on May 22.

    He was fined £200 per lopped tree, £400 for the felled one, was ordered to pay a victim surcharge and the council’s costs, which totalled £2,627.50.

    The trees affected include a mature lime tree, a yew and small leaved lime and were growing within the grounds of Marston’s house in the conservation area.

    A council can also issue a tree replanting notice if a protected tree is cut down, and Wokingham Borough Council has issued a number of these in recent weeks.

    Trees in a conservation area are protected, and need council consent for most types of work, but trees may also be protected by a tree preservation order (TPO) or by planning conditions.

    The roots of protected trees have the same level of protection as the trunk and branches. Carrying out works on a TPO tree, or one in a conservation area can result in a fine of up to £2,500 for ‘lopping’, and for felling the fine is unlimited.

    Cllr Angus Ross, executive member for environment, said: “It is not just buildings and heritage. Trees are the green backbone of our environment.

    “Trees in a conservation area are protected, as well as those with TPOs, and we will not hesitate to prosecute if this safeguard has been abused.

    “Removal of these trees brings out deep felt concern by residents, and we share their regard for our tree environment.”

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