While you would think that tree surgeons and professionals in this sector would know the risks of cutting down protected trees, there doesn’t appear to be any change in behaviour. 2018 has started in the same manner as 2017 and previous years had continued with a company director and a tree surgeon receiving a fine after a protected sycamore had been pared back without the appropriate permission.
John McAllister and Helen Kelly-Howe were ordered to pay a fine in excess of £2,000. This was in relation to the unauthorised work which had taken place in High Street in Roydon. This dates back to June of 2017 when Epping Forest Council officers received notification that the branches of a tree located within one property had been cut back. These branches had been overhanging into land owned by a neighbour.
A council investigation took place
The council started an investigation and it was found that Kelly-Howe, a director for the company which owned the property, instructed John McAllister, the tree surgeon, to pare the branches back. This was done so to the level of the boundary of the property.
It transpires that no checks were carried out to determine if the tree was a protected tree. There was also no attempt to obtain consent for the work that would be carried out. The property is located in a conservation area in Roydon which means that a six week notice period has to be provided for any work on the trees. If this notice period had been followed through, it would have revealed that the tree was protected and that work should not have been carried out, and that consent for this work would not have been given.
Major fines were handed out to all parties involved
Kelly-Howe issued a plea of guilty to “causing or permitting unauthorised work to a tree in a conservation area”. The Magistrates believed that Kelly-Howe had a major role to play in this incident and she was fined a total of £1,000 while also being required to pay a sum of £750 towards the prosecution costs of the council and to the victim surcharge fund.
McAllister also received a fine, of £300, while he was ordered to pay £250 to the prosecution costs of the council and a further £30 as a victim surcharge. There may well be some surprise at the fact that the tree surgeon has received the smaller fine of the two people involved with this incident. All tree surgeons should be aware of the importance of consent for work like this and the fact that proper procedures have to be followed when it comes to removing branches or paring trees back.
This is a costly reminder that there are strict rules and regulations in place when it comes to protected trees and that people cannot just do as they feel or like.