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Arborist and land owner to pay £10,000 after protected trees cut down at Sudbrooke

Two men have been ordered to pay almost £10,000 after protected trees were cut down.

Tree surgeon Glenn Barrett and land owner Bruce Haughton appeared at Boston Magistrates’ Court.

Both pleaded guilty to wilfully destroying seven trees in contravention to tree preservation regulations at Park House, Sudbrooke, between June 14 and June 30 last year.

Boston Magistrates' Court
Boston Magistrates' Court

“The trees were subject to a tree preservation order that has been in place at the property since 1950,” said prosecutor Sally Burke, who added necessary checks were not carried out with West Lindsey District Council before work was undertaken.

“Mr Barrett is an arborist who was employed to clear the trees, but no notice was given to the local authority.

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“Mr Barrett said he only cut down trees that were dead or dying, but he was unable to show evidence of this apart from a few branches laying on the ground.”

Mrs Burke added there was a suggestion 34-year-old Haughton, whose company owned the land, was hoping to submit a planning application to develop where the trees were cut down, and this could lead to ‘a degree of financial gain’.

Cutting down a tree with a chainsaw (stock picture)
Cutting down a tree with a chainsaw (stock picture)

Defending Haughton, last Monday (March 11), Shemuel Sheikh refuted this claim, pointing out that: “The Town and Country Planning Act states the owner of a property is required to replace these trees.

“This means the site will go back to the status quo and, as a consequence, there’s no benefit to the trees being removed.”

Mr Sheikh added: “Mr Barrett is a highly experienced and qualified tree surgeon who knows about TPOs and should take the necessary precautions.

“It’s his professional duty and obligation. That’s why Mr Haughton hired an expert to carry out this work.

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“For both there was a genuine but mistaken belief the TPO did not include this part of the property. There is clear, bitter regret from both defendants.”

Defending 63-year-old Barrett, Tim Poole said his client, who became a tree surgeon in 2001 after leaving the military, was distracted from carrying out his usual due diligence because of a family member’s serious illness.

“Mr Barrett has operated as a tree surgeon in Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire for 23 years and has never been subject to enforcement action,” he said.

“His impeccable and unblemished record as far as dealing with the local authority shows what sort of person you are dealing with. He prided himself of taking necessary precautions.

“He was told there was a TPO relating to a wooded area around the back of the property, not the trees he was working on.

“He accepts the obligations he does have to carry out checks himself. But he genuinely believed he could work on these trees.”

Magistrates described Haughton, of Scothern Lane, Sudbrooke, as ‘reckless’ with his decision to allow work to take place on his land knowing there was a ‘reasonable risk’ the trees were protected.

He was fined £3,844 and ordered to pay a £1,538 victim surcharge and £994.70 costs.

Barrett, of Lincoln Road, Faldingworth, was fined £1,600 and told to pay a £640 victim surcharge and £994.70 in costs.

Magistrates accused him of being ‘negligent’.

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