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Hefty fines after trees felled illegally

A housing developer and two contractors have received hefty fines totalling more than £25,000 after illegally felling trees at a development in Chesterfield in a prosecution brought by Chesterfield Borough Council.

One Cherry tree and one Lombardy Poplar tree, which were subject to a tree preservation order, were cut down at Pomegranate Park in Newbold when the new housing development was built.

Avant Homes (England) Ltd subcontracted Builders UK and Bridgebank Ltd to build the new homes. All three pleaded guilty to breaching the terms of the order.

The protected trees should have had fencing around them to prevent damage to them or their root systems. There should also have been signs telling contractors it was a tree preservation area.

In some places on the site this fencing was removed and heavy machinery was used in the tree protection area, damaging the roots of some trees.

In a hearing at Chesterfield Magistrates Court on Thursday 21 December, District Judge Taff said tree preservation orders are in place for the benefit of the public.

District Judge Taff also said that there had been ‘systematic mismanagement’ and ‘systematic negligence’ by Avant Homes (England) Ltd at Pomegranate Park, which led to the breaches of the tree preservation order.

Avant Homes (England) Ltd were fined a total of £21,600, plus costs of £1,643.37 and £170 victim surcharge, making a total of £23,413.37.

Builders UK were fined £1,500, plus costs of £1,066.61 and £150 victim surcharge, making a total of £2,716.61.

Bridgebank Ltd were sentenced at an earlier hearing and received a fine of £1,600 plus £100 costs and £120 victim surcharge, making a total of £1,820.

Councillor Terry Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “Trees and woodland are important for wildlife and make an area more attractive.

“Tree preservation orders are designed to protect trees from destruction and damage. In this case, the developer and contractors removed fencing and signs around the trees and trees were destroyed and damaged.

“This is a serious matter and the levels of the fines given reflect this.”

First published on 22 December 2017 Last updated on 22 December 2017