Tree felling prosecution

Published Wednesday, 7 November 2018

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 prohibited work, including felling, to the protected trees without the written consent of the local authority. He was ordered to pay total fines and costs of over £15,000.

“Householders are responsible for their privately-owned land and its upkeep and this includes their obligations as custodians of trees with preservation orders on them. Enforcement and prosecution is always a last resort for us but when the amenity of the local area is seriously affected by the actions of one individual, we have no choice but to act, to protect the amenity of everyone. Our Borough is renowned for its character and trees are integral part of this” said Councillor Kate Lymer, Executive Councillor for Public Protection and Enforcement.

The pine trees had a Tree Preservation Order on them since 1997, 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 garden to be landscaped but the application was refused 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 due to the refused tree work application, claiming 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 which concluded that there were no structural defects requiring immediate safety works.

A couple of months’ later, work to the pine trees was carried out by a contractor employed by Mr Clarke, causing damage and 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 and does this by making Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). To warrant a TPO, a tree should make a significant impact on its local surroundings. An order can protect any type of tree although special provisions apply to trees in conservation areas.

Permission is needed to carry out work to a protected tree - the council will not refuse necessary works to protected trees where sufficient justification is supplied, but will oppose unreasonable proposals that conflict with council policy. Advice and information about work relating to protected trees Is available at www.bromley.gov.uk/trees.

ENDS

1. Regulation 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012) - Prohibited activities - Without prejudice to subsection (7) of section 198(1) (power to make tree preservation orders) or subsection (1) of section 200(2) (tree preservation orders: Forestry Commissioners) and, subject to the exceptions in regulation 14, no person shall—

(a)cut down;

(b)top;

(c)lop;

(d)uproot;

(e)wilfully damage; or

(f)wilfully destroy,

any tree to which an order relates, or shall cause or permit the carrying out of any of the activities in sub-paragraphs (a) to (f) to such a tree, except with the written consent of the authority and, where such consent is given subject to conditions, in accordance with those conditions. 

2. The trial took place at Croydon Crown Court on 11 October 2018.

3. Mr Clarke was ordered to pay within 3 months, a fine of £7,500 costs of £7,660.03 and unspecified amount for victim surcharge.

For media enquiries please contact Andrew Rogers, Communications Executive, on 020 8461 7670 or email andrew.rogers@bromley.gov.uk