Mole Valley District Council’s commitment to vigilantly uphold the district’s environment and natural beauty has seen the successful prosecution of two individuals for felling an acre of protected woodland at Teazle Wood.
Two men pleaded guilty at Guildford Magistrates Court on Monday 13 January 2020 to the felling of 40 Oak and other trees from an area of woodland along Oaklawn Road in North Leatherhead, all of which were protected under a designated Tree Preservation Order (TPO).
Following a detailed investigation by Mole Valley District Council’s (MVDC) Enforcement Team, Magistrates sentenced the landowner, Andrew Egby, to a £3,000 fine and ordered him to pay MVDC’s costs of £2,000. The contractor involved in felling the trees, Charles Green, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 costs. The level of Mr Egby and Mr Green’s sentences were a reflection on their previous good character and for pleading guilty at the first available opportunity.
Having been caught felling the protected trees in May 2019 without seeking advice or permission from MVDC, the landowner was formally interviewed under caution by MVDC officers, followed by Mr Green at a later date. Mr Egby defended his actions at that time by arguing that the TPO was not valid. Mr Green told MVDC he completed the work on the understanding the trees were not protected. MVDC was able to prove that the trees felled had in fact been protected under a TPO.
MVDC has issued a Tree Replacement Notice which requires forty new mature trees to be planted at the site in the next 12 months by the landowner, Mr Egby.
Councillor Margaret Cooksey, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “Land owners, developers and contractors alike have a duty to conserve protected trees and comply with the tree protection regulations by seeking advice from us and take necessary precautions. We treat the unauthorised destruction of protected trees very seriously. The removal of mature trees can cause significant harm to the character of the district and we will always seek to take legal action where appropriate.”