Ryton man fined for breaching Tree Preservation Order

A RYTON man has been ordered to pay more than £1,500 after a protected tree on his land was cut down.

James White, of Ryton Mill, London Road, pleaded guilty at Nuneaton Justice Centre on Tuesday (16 May) to an offence under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Mr White was prosecuted by Rugby Borough Council after a horse chestnut tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) was felled on land he owned in Leamington Road, Ryton, without the council's permission.

The court heard a pair of mature horse chestnut trees on the land were made subject to TPOs more than 30 years ago.

White bought the land in August 2016 and a month later contacted the council to report the trunk of one of the trees had snapped, causing damage to the roof of a nearby property.

Knowing the horse chestnut was protected by a TPO, White requested permission to remove the tree due to its poor condition.

When the council's arboricultural officer visited the site to check the condition of the tree he agreed it needed to be removed.

But an inspection of the other horse chestnut revealed it remained in good condition.

As a result, White was told he only had permission to remove the damaged tree.

However, in December the council was contacted by residents who were concerned about clearance work taking place on the land.

On visiting the site, the arboricultural officer found both horse chestnut trees had been removed - breaching the TPO which states landowners must have permission from the council before carrying out work on a protected tree.

At Tuesday's hearing, White's solicitor told magistrates the breach of the TPO was a genuine mistake, caused by a misunderstanding between White and the contractor carrying out work on the land.

The solicitor added White had also agreed to replace the tree - a condition of breaching a TPO.

White was fined £879 for the offence. The 71-year-old was also ordered to pay £541 costs and an £87 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the hearing, Sean Lawson, Rugby Borough Council's head of environment and public realm, said: "Even basic maintenance of a protected tree, such as pruning, lopping or topping, needs prior approval, so I'd urge residents considering carrying out work on a mature tree to contact us first.

"We can offer advice on how best to carry out the work and avoid falling foul of the law.

"I'd also encourage any resident who has concerns about work being carried out on trees in the borough to report those concerns to the council."

Residents can contact the council's arboriculture team by calling (01788) 533717 or by completing the online form at www.rugby.gov.uk/reportaproblem

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