Surrey Heath Borough Council has successfully prosecuted two companies for the unauthorised felling of five protected trees in Bagshot, leading to a total of over £20,000 of fines and costs for both firms.
Pennyhill Park Limited and their contractor, Clear Cut Gardens Tree Care Limited, both pleaded guilty to the charges and together they were required by the court to pay a total of £20,621.
Surrey Heath Portfolio Holder for Net Zero, Wellbeing & Environment Cllr Morgan Rise said: “Surrey Heath Borough Council is committed to protecting our natural environment, including our important trees.
“Trees are essential to our environment by creating oxygen and cleaning air through photosynthesis, which removes climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, mitigating the effects of climate change. In one year, a mature tree can absorb a half a metric ton of carbon dioxide.
“Trees also provide natural shade and habitat for wildlife encouraging stronger biodiversity. As a council we will continue to take action against anyone that damages or fells protected trees. I would urge anyone who is planning to carry out work or cut down trees on their land to please check first if they are the subject of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).”
Danny Pecorelli, Managing Director at Pennyhill Park said: “We are devastated that after an impeccable environmental record for over 40 years we have inadvertently breached the TPO rules. We planted over 1,500 trees across our different sites last year and plan to plant over 500 more just at Pennyhill this year in partnership with one of our charity partners Protect Earth, and fully appreciate the importance of being good custodians of the land we own.
“This has been a hugely distressing learning curve for us and reinforces the importance of checking thoroughly which trees are the subject of a TPO before undertaking any works."
The Council is proud of Surrey Heath’s position as the most wooded borough in the country, with an estimated tree cover of 36.1%, and has more than 660 TPOs in place, legally protecting thousands of trees. Planning permission must be obtained before work is carried out on protected trees, or they are cut down.
If you are considering doing any work on trees, please check now if any of the trees are protected by a TPO.
The Council carries out an extensive planting, care and maintenance programme on our trees throughout the year. In 2022-23 more than 5,000 trees were planted by our Greenspace team and volunteers, while our Tree Officer provides expert advice and guidance.
More information is available on the Trees page. https://www.surreyheath.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/trees