Project manager and subcontractor prosecuted and fined for causing damage to protected trees

11 February 2016

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Woking Borough Council has prosecuted a project manager and its appointed subcontractor for causing damage, and in one count irreversible damage, to two trees in contravention of a 1964 Tree Protection Order (TPO) at a private residential property in Hook Heath.

At Redhill Magistrates Court on 1 December 2015 the developer, Mr Ben Kirk of Creative Heritage, and on 1 February 2016, his subcontractor, Mr James Richardson of Betterbuilds, pleaded guilty to all offences.

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, a person who removes or irreversibly damages a tree protected by a TPO and is found guilty of an offence under Section 210(1) can be fined up to 20,000. Under the same Act, a person who prunes or damages a protected tree (without pre-determined authorisation) and is found guilty of an offence under Section 210(4) can be fined up to 2,500.

Creative Heritage

On 1 December 2015, Mr Ben Kirk, representing Creative Heritage as sole director pleaded guilty to one offence under Section 210(4) of the Act.

Creative Heritage was ordered to pay a total cost of 696 immediately, which comprised a 300 fine, full costs of 366 and a 30 victim surcharge.

Betterbuilds

Representing Betterbuilds as sole director, Mr Richardson attended court on 1 February 2016 to face two counts under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. One count for the destruction of a protected tree (under Section 210(1)) and a second count for the damage of a protected tree (under Section 210(4)).

Mr James Richardson was fined 2,500 for count one under Section 210(1) and 600 for count two under Section 210(4), ordered to pay the full costs of 366 and a victim surcharge of 120. In total, Mr Richardson was ordered to pay 3,586.

The damage to the protected Scots Pine trees was caused by the project managers (Creative Heritage) subcontractor, Betterbuilds, during permitted works to build a timber framed carport at a private residential property in Hook Heath.

Commenting on the case, Woking Borough Councils Arboricultural Officer, James Veats, said: Unfortunately, in this instance the arboricultural information commissioned and provided by the property owner was not followed by its contractors, which resulted in two protected trees being damaged one to the extent that it had to be removed on safety grounds. The second tree required additional pruning works to reduce the impact of the damage.

Interference to a trees root structure and external surfaces can cause long term and irreversible damage.

Cllr Graham Cundy, Woking Borough Councils Portfolio Holder for Planning Implementation, added: Tree Protection Orders are placed on trees which bring significant amenity benefit to the local area. This protection is particularly important where trees are under threat.

These prosecutions send out a clear and robust message that the Council will not hesitate to prosecute people who cause damage to protected trees, and do not comply with Council permissions.

Anyone considering works to protected trees should contact Woking Borough Council's Arboriculture Services on 01483 755855 or visit www.woking.gov.uk/planning/trees for more information.

Anyone wishing to check whether a Tree Protection Order (TPO) protects a tree on their property, can do so online by typing their address details into the Your local services' area on the Council's homepage. This part of the website provides vital information on residents' property, plus neighbourhood services and refuses collections.