A Chesterfield-based housebuilder has been ordered to pay almost £12,000 after causing significant damage to a protected tree.

In a prosecution brought by Chesterfield Borough Council, D J Atkinson Construction Ltd, of Grassmoor, pleaded guilty at Northern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court to causing damage to the root system of a cherry tree protected by a tree preservation order.

The tree is on the site of the former Ringwood Centre in Brimington, which was demolished to make way for 37 homes at the Ringwood Meadows development.

District Judge Davison ordered the company to pay fines and costs totalling £11,946.20.

Damage Tree Close Up Web 1

The court heard that D.J. Atkinson Construction Limited was appointed by the landowner to build the new homes. But the company failed to adequately protect the tree and their actions caused root damage on two separate occasions in January and September 2017.

The company received a caution for the first offence, however Chesterfield Borough Council decided to prosecute when the company caused further, more extensive damage to the tree by removing the protective fencing and allowing mechanical digging within the root protection area.

Councillor Terry Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “We are committed to preserving trees and woodlands which are important to wildlife and are an amenity enjoyed by residents and visitors to the area.

“Construction companies are well aware of the rules they must comply with but where they flout them, as in this case, then we will prosecute.

“We hope this case will also act as a warning to other construction companies that tree preservation orders are there for a reason and are not something they can just choose to ignore.”

Chesterfield Borough Council is continuing to monitor the damaged tree to see the long term impact that the excavation work has caused.