A BILL of £5,000 has been given to a man for damaging a protected tree.

Hereford Magistrates Court was told that Roy Albert Harrison wanted to cut the lime tree down to clear his land for a housing project.

The 78-year-old from Lugwardine pleaded not guilty to consenting to unauthorised works to a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) but was found guilty.

The case was brought by Herefordshire Council’s Conservation team who said previous planning applications for housing on the site, separate applications to fell the protected tree and subsequent appeals were turned down.

Magistrates were told last week that Harrison employed a tree surgeon to cut down the tree, under the belief that the TPO was invalid.

The works in May of 2017 were stopped part-way through and it is thought the lime tree will reform its canopy.

The tree surgeon was initially interviewed under caution, but no further action was taken.

In addition to being told to pay court costs of £5,000, Harrison must also pay a fine of £180 and a victim surcharge of £30.

Speaking after the case, Marc Willimont, Acting Assistant Director or Regulatory, Environment and Waste, said Herefordshire Council is committed to protecting the quality of the natural environment for the public benefit and to ensure that planning decisions are not circumvented.

“When undertaking works to a protected tree, responsibility lies with the person commissioning the work and the contractor,” he added.

“Penalties for felling protected trees can be severe; a person convicted may be liable to an unlimited fine which take into account any financial benefit which may result from the offence.

“We hope this case will act as a deterrent to anyone who may be considering carrying out unauthorised works to protected trees.”