A Beckenham resident who knowingly felled three protected pine trees has been prosecuted.
Peter Clarke of Westgate Road, Beckenham, pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to carrying out prohibiting work. This includes felling, to the protected trees without the written consent of the local authority. He received orders to pay total fines and costs of over £15,000.
Councillor Kate Lymer, executive councillor for Public Protection and Enforcement said:
“Householders are responsible for their privately-owned land and its upkeep. This includes their obligations as custodians of trees with preservation orders on them. Enforcement and prosecution is always a last resort. But, when the amenity of the local area is seriously affected by the actions of one individual, we have no choice but to protect the amenity of everyone. Our Borough is renowned for its character and trees are integral part of this.”
The Pine trees had a Tree Preservation Order on them since 1997. This is several years before Mr Clarke became owner of the property. He originally applied to the council to have the trees felled in 2007 to enable the landscaping of his garden. This application did not receive approval due to the detrimental impact on the local amenity.
Mr Clarke wrote to the council in June 2014 citing that he was unable to sell the property. He put this down to the refusal to grant his tree work application. He claims that the trees had deteriorated and were listing with large branches falling to the ground. The council then arranged for an independent inspection of the trees. This found there were no structural defects requiring immediate safety works.
A couple of months’ later, work began on the pine trees by a contractor employed by Mr Clarke. This caused damage and the death of the trees. Site inspections later confirmed this and prosecution followed.
The council is responsible for protecting trees under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This is by making Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). To warrant a TPO, a tree should make a major impact on its local area. An order can protect any type of tree although special provisions apply to trees in conservation areas.
Permission is essential to carry out work to a protected tree. The council will not refuse necessary works to protected trees where there is reason. But, it will oppose unreasonable proposals that conflict with council policy. Advice and information about work relating to protected trees is available here.