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Bexley Council prosecutes Sidcup homeowner and tree surgeon for cutting down protected tree

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 October 2019

The tree at the centre of the enforcement action. Picture: Bexley Council

The tree at the centre of the enforcement action. Picture: Bexley Council

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Bexley Council has successfully prosecuted a Sidcup homeowner and his tree surgeon for illegally cutting down a protected tree.

The Sycamore tree, which stood proudly at a property in White Oak Gardens, Sidcup, was protected by a Tree Preservation Order.

But on September 16 this year the tree surgeon, operating as TPA Tree Surgery, pleaded guilty in the Magistrates' Court to carrying our works to a protected tree contrary to section 210(4) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

He was fined a total of £860.

Two weeks later, on September 30, the owner of the property pleaded guilty to the same offence.

He was fined a total of £470.

Bexley Council's enforcement teams became aware of the unauthorised works on the protected tree in February.

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"Protected trees play an important part in making Bexley such a green and pleasant borough," said a Bexley Council spokesman.

"The robust enforcement action we took in this case shows how seriously we take any incidents where we believe people carry out work to trees they know are protected."

Under the law, owners of protected trees must not carry out, or cause or permit the carrying out of, any of the prohibited activities without the written consent of the local authority.

As with owners of unprotected trees, they are responsible for maintaining their trees, with no statutory rules setting out how often or to what standard.

The local planning authority cannot require maintenance work to be done to a tree just because it is protected.

However, the authority can encourage good tree management, particularly when determining applications for consent under a Tree Preservation Order. This will help to maintain and enhance the amenity provided by protected trees.

Local planning authorities can make a Tree Preservation Order if it appears to them to be "expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the preservation of trees or woodlands in their area".

Authorities can either initiate this process themselves or in response to a request made by any other party.

Orders should be made in respect of trees where it appears necessary in connection with the grant of permission.

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