A man has been fined £1,500 for illegally destroying a protected oak tree in the front garden of his new property.
Daniel Bear of Forest Lane, Chigwell, pleaded guilty to the offence of causing or permitting the cutting down of an oak tree which was the subject of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), without authorisation from Epping Forest District Council.
Bear, 35, was also ordered to pay £1,000 towards court costs and a victim surcharge of £120.
Yesterday (January 25), the council warned it takes the protection of trees ‘very seriously’.
A member of the public told the council the tree had been cut down at the end of July 2015.
An official inspection of the site found the work had been done professionally, using specialist equipment in an efficient manner, leaving “no trace” of the stump.
Bear had bought the property two months earlier, after an earlier home was demolished and replaced with two new buildings.
When questioned by council officers, he claimed he paid someone £750 for the work after they knocked on the door and told him it was dangerous, but he did not provide any more information.
A previous inspection in April 2015 had found no evidence of the tree being dangerous or diseased, so prosecution proceedings began against Bear, ending on January 7.
Councillor for trees Gary Waller said: “As the responsible local authority the district council takes the protection of our local trees very seriously.
“Trees are a vital part of our environment and provide a natural habitat for wildlife.
“I would urge anyone who is unsure as to whether a protected tree may be unsafe in any way to get in touch with the trees and landscape team at the district council first.
“Otherwise, as in this case, carrying out work without seeking the correct permissions could lead to the destruction of a perfectly healthy tree and prove to be very costly.”