A Beckenham resident has been landed with a £15k fine after a court ruled he knowingly felled three protected pine trees.

Peter Clarke of Westgate Road, Beckenham, pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to cutting down the trees without needed permission. He must pay total fines and costs of over £15,000.

Councillor Kate Lymer, Executive Councillor for Public Protection and Enforcement, said:

“Householders are responsible for their privately-owned land and its upkeep and this includes their obligations as custodians of trees with preservation orders on them. Enforcement and prosecution is always a last resort for us but when the amenity of the local area is seriously affected by the actions of one individual, we have no choice but to act, to protect the amenity of everyone. Our Borough is renowned for its character and trees are integral part of this” 

The pine trees have had a Tree Preservation Order on them since 1997, several years before Mr Clarke became owner of the property. He originally applied to the council to have the trees felled in 2007 to enable the garden to be landscaped but the application was refused due to the detrimental impact on the local amenity.

Mr Clarke wrote to the council in June 2014 citing that he was unable to sell the property due to the refused tree work application, claiming that the trees had deteriorated and were listing with large branches falling to the ground. The council then arranged for an independent inspection of the trees which concluded that there were no structural defects requiring immediate safety works.

A couple of months’ later, work to the pine trees was carried out by a contractor employed by Mr Clarke, causing damage and death of the trees. Site inspections later confirmed this and prosecution followed.