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    Man fined for damaging trees

    A Salford man has been fined for the wilful destruction of two protected trees.

    Mr Laith Al-Hashmi, 37, pleaded guilty at Salford and Manchester magistrates court on Wednesday July 31 to two offences under Section 202 and 210 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 of destroying protected trees at Lancaster Road, Salford.

    He was fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,500 costs with £50 victim supplement.

    The court heard that the trees stood outside a pair of semi-detached brick built houses on Lancaster Road. Both trees were protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

    After receiving a complaint about damage to the trees, council officers visited the site and found the gardens in both cases had been excavated to street level and hard core laid down. Land next to the root balls of each tree had been cut away to allow construction of a new wall and its foundations.

    Many large roots had been cut and gouged during the activity.

    Mr Al-Hashmi, who owns one of the properties, was interviewed and admitted responsibility for the work that had been done and for the damage to the roots of the trees. He said he knew the trees were protected by a Tree Preservation Order but believed that meant he could not cut the branches or alter the look of the trees and he only needed to contact the council if he intended to interfere with the crown of the tree.

    He believed the TPO did not apply to the tree roots which were seriously damaged. He said he did not intentionally or wilfully damage the trees. 
    Experts at the time said the stability of the mature trees had been compromised and they could become unsafe. Mr Al-Hashmi subsequently applied for permission to remove the trees and paid for the work involved.

    Speaking after the case Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said: “This series of errors and omissions has led to the destruction of two mature trees, spoiling the look of the street. Anyone who is undertaking any work near to trees must check carefully if they are protected and be very clear about what they are entitled to do.

    “It’s our policy to replace any tree which has to be removed with two more, though they cannot necessarily be put back at the same location. These two trees will be replaced by four others in the city.”

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