A Fleet resident has been ordered to pay more than £2,000 after pleading guilty to cutting down protected trees in a conservation area.
Basingstoke Magistrates Court found earlier this month that the two trees – a sycamore and a cypress – in the North Fleet Conservation Area were removed contrary to a Hart District Council Decision Notice issued on 30 January 2018. This allowed for the felling of several trees at the defendant’s address but clearly stated this did not include the sycamore or cypress.
The following year the Council was notified by another resident that the trees had been removed to make way for a pool house.
The defendant was fined £540 for each tree felled with a victim surcharge of £108 and a compensation order of £1,295, totalling £2,483.
Conservation areas provide the same level of legal protection for trees as Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) which require written consent from the Council to remove, prune or undertake any other form of work to a tree.
Councillor David Neighbour, Leader of Hart District Council, said: “This court case highlights the importance the Council attaches to protecting our trees and green spaces. Taking someone to court is always a last resort but we will take action if someone cuts down a protected tree.
“If you’re looking to carry out work on a tree, you should always check if they are covered by a TPO or are in a conservation area.”
More information on TPOs and trees in conservation areas can be found at www.hart.gov.uk/trees-hedges.