Two firms fined thousands after damaging trees

22/1/2021

Hanworth Lane tree damage

A developer and tree surgeon have been fined almost £10,000 by magistrates in two linked prosecutions regarding their respective roles leading to 20 protected mature trees being damaged in Chertsey.

BDW Trading Ltd, of Barratt House, Cartwright Way, Forest Business Park, Bardon Hill, Coalville, Leicestershire, and KPS Contractors Ltd, of KPS House, Ham Lane, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex, were also ordered to pay costs totalling £12,718 and surcharges of £371. The rulings followed two hearings at Guildford Magistrates' Court in November 2020 and January 2021.

The prosecutions were brought by Runnymede Borough Council after staff acting on a complaint from a member of the public attended the site in September 2019. They discovered that the trees had been damaged as part of preparation for building works in Hanworth Lane.

Both BDW and KPS were initially interviewed by the Council and detailed investigations were carried out. The investigations revealed that, although some tree works had been authorised as the site had planning permission for development, the actual work carried out was excessive, causing unlawful damage to numerous trees.

BDW was charged with eight offences and KPS was initially charged with 16 offences (later reduced to 15 offences) under Section 210 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This makes it an offence to contravene a Tree Preservation Order.

At Guildford Magistrates Court on 4 November 2020 BDW offered guilty pleas to all charges against it, and at the same court in a separate hearing on 6 January 2021, KPS offered guilty pleas to all charges against it.

Runnymede Borough Council Leader Cllr Nick Prescot said: "These successful prosecutions demonstrate how seriously the Council takes the protection of trees in the Borough. The fines imposed were appropriate to the damage caused to the trees in question, but developers and tree surgeons should be aware that magistrates and the Crown Courts can impose much greater fines for more severe damage.

"These convictions should act as a deterrent to others, but we would far sooner work with companies and individuals with a view to avoiding offences like these occurring in the first place. We would always encourage people to adhere to what's been approved in planning permission or other consents for proposed works to protected trees so, we do not need to consider enforcement action."

The Council's website provides guidance regarding protected trees and our mapping tool enables the public to check whether trees are within a Conservation Area or are covered by a TPO.