Tree removal prosecution is a legal first

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Wolverhampton woman fined after cutting down protected trees

A WOLVERHAMPTON resident has been fined £1,000 for cutting down two protected yew trees in her garden which were both thought to be aged between 80 and 120 years old.

The prosecution of Kanvaljit Bansal, of Newbridge Crescent, was the first action of its kind ever taken by Wolverhampton City Council for breach of a tree preservation order.

Bansal pleaded guilty to two offences in breach of a tree preservation order at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court – cutting down a yew tree and wilfully damaging a yew tree. One of the trees was cut down to ground level and the other had been cut to approximately 2.5 metres high.

 The defendant told the court that she instructed tree surgeons to carry out the work without first establishing whether they had protected status.

Yew trees can live to be 1,000 years old and both of these trees had been covered by TPO status since 1968. TPOs are placed on trees which are considered to have a significant impact on the amenity of the local environment and the public’s enjoyment of it.

Magistrates told Bansal she had been “negligent” for not ascertaining the protected status of the trees before instructing contractors to cut them down.

Nick Edwards, Wolverhampton City Council’s assistant director for prosperity, said today that the council had opted to prosecute its first ever case of this type because officers were confident they had gathered sufficient evidence.

He added: “The message here is very clear, trees are protected for a reason and householders must always check the status of trees on their property before carrying out any works on them. These were old yew trees, but they could have lived to be ancient. Once they are gone, they are gone forever and that is the sad thing about this case.

“Prosecution is a last resort, but the circumstances of this case merited legal proceedings and we hope this will act as a warning to others.”

Bansal was fined £500 for each offence and ordered to pay costs of £488.

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