Housing developer fined for felling protected tree

We have successfully prosecuted a housing developer for breaching a tree preservation order.

Eric Gadsden (on behalf of W E Black Limited and individually) pleaded guilty at St Albans Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 19 August and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,500 and a victim charge of £100.

The company, W E Black Limited, was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,689, plus a victim surcharge of £181.

The offence took place at the former Convent of St Francis De Sales Preparatory School, in Aylesbury Road, Tring, which is being developed into new homes.

Works were approved with planning permission which permitted the removal of a number of the trees. However, three trees in particular were required to be retained and protected during construction work.

In January 2020, the developer removed one of the three trees - a mature beech tree which was considered to have a very high amenity value for the surrounding area.

Investigations began immediately following a report on 10 January 2020 that the tree had been felled. Officers visited the site and confirmed that the protected tree had been felled.

Cllr Graham Sutton, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure, said: “This court case sends out the important message that we will seek, where appropriate, to prosecute in cases of breaches of tree preservation orders.

“This case also highlights the importance we attach to protected trees that carry high amenity value. Where expedient and in the public interest to do so, the strongest possible action will be taken against those who do not comply with planning regulations.”

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