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£10k fine for South Hams’ resident’s illegal tree felling

Issued: 12 March 2024

South Hams District Council has successfully prosecuted a resident who illegally cut down two protected trees within a woodland near Hope Cove in December 2022.

The Council investigates unauthorised work to protected trees and where appropriate these cases will move to prosecution when a person has deliberately damaged or destroyed a protected tree, often for personal or financial gain.

In this case a resident was responsible for cutting down two trees, breaching a Woodland Tree Protection Order. The resident contracted an independent gardening service to cut down the protected trees, who were unaware of their protected status.

The defendant received a fine of £10,000 and was ordered to pay costs totalling over £5,000. They will also be required to replace the trees which will be protected by the same Tree Preservation Order once planted.

As always, the Council’s focus is to educate first to prevent any damage or breach of tree regulations. However, harm to trees, woodland and hedgerows does still happen and action will be taken where necessary to protect the beautiful environment and our rich biodiversity for the residents and visitors of the South Hams.

For information and advice about trees and hedgerows and the laws protecting them can be found on the Council’s webpages, social media and by Council arborists’ specialist advice.

Cllr Dan Thomas, South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Planning, said: “I am very pleased with the outcome of this case and more importantly with the clear message it sends. We never want to take our residents to court, but when planning law is deliberately ignored, we can and we will.”

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