A builder from Old Bolingbroke, near Spilsby, has been fined for felling two protected trees in a conservation area.
Following an investigation by East Lindsey District Council, Terrence Batten of Mill Cottage, Kirkby Hill, Old Bolingbroke, was found to have felled a holly an cypress tree on the boundary between St Peter and St Paul’s Churchyard and his own building site, off Moat Lane, Old Bolingbroke, without necessary notification.
Boston magistrates Court today (Wednesday) imposed a fine and costs totalling £13,900 (£12,000 fine, £700 costs and £1,200 victim surcharge).
The court heard that members of the public and residents were ‘upset and distressed’ at the work carried out by Mr Batten and the impact it had on the churchyard, and had contacted the council to report their concerns.
Following a site visit Mr Batten was invited to an interview under caution, as carrying out unauthorised works to protected trees is a criminal offence.
He declined the invitation but the council decided there was sufficient evidence to prosecute and in court Mr Batten pleaded guilty to offences under section 210 of the Town and Country Planning Act.
Arboricultural officer Robert Taylor said: “In carrying out this work Mr Batten showed a complete disregard for the conservation area and the protection this affords trees within it. The level of fine reflects that this was a serious breach of the law, causing harm to the character of the area and a great deal of distress to local people. The council investigates all unauthorised work to protected trees and this case demonstrates that we will take action where breaches of the law occur. Anyone planning to carry out work to trees that may be protected is encouraged to contact the council first for advice.”
Trees within a conservation area are protected in the same way as a tree preservation order, but before carrying out work to a conservation area tree six weeks’ notice must be given to the council.