Duo fined for cutting trees in historic woodland

Published: Monday, 30th July 2018

A tree surgeon whose staff were caught red-handed cutting protected trees in a historic woodland in Windsor has been fined and ordered to repay more than £20,000, alongside the landowner.

A total of 11 protected trees had been felled by Mark Knight’s employees when they were caught in the act by council officers. They arrived at the site in St Leonard’s Hill hours after a tip off from a member of the public.

The Royal Borough’s planning enforcement team then used their powers to launch a criminal investigation against Mr Knight, his business Landmark Tree Surgeons and the landowner Geoffrey Try.

All three admitted to cutting down protected trees contrary to Tree Preservation Regulations and were ordered to repay all the council’s legal fees alongside their own fines.

The unlawfully felled trees included ash, willow and sycamore – some more than 60 years old – and were all protected as part of the historic woodland that surrounds St Leonard’s Hill.

Cllr Phill Bicknell, cabinet member for highways, transport and Windsor, said: “This is an excellent example of the quick work our officers can do with the help of residents and visitors reporting an issue as soon as they see it.

“Our borough is blessed with some wonderful outdoor spaces and we take our duty to protect our nature and heritage seriously.

“I hope the level of fine and the quick action of our planning enforcement team to prosecute these individuals sends a clear message to others that there are serious consequences for those who show no respect to our woodlands and the laws that protect them.”

Mr Knight, the business Landmark Tree Surgeons and Mr Try all faced charges of cutting down protected trees contrary to Tree Preservation Regulations and each admitted to one count at Reading Magistrates’ Court, before being sentenced at the same court on Friday 20 July 2018.

Landmark Tree Surgeons has also admitted to a further two offences for unlawfully felling trees on another site in Hemwood Road, Windsor, and will face sentencing at Reading Magistrates’ Court on 3 September.

In light of the offences the council has removed them from its list of approved contractors. The list can be found here.

The sentences in full for the unlawful felling of trees in St Leonard’s Hill were:

•    Try – Fine £2,045.30, costs £1,821.40 and a victim surcharge of £170.
•    Knight – Fine £4,545.30, costs £1,821.40 and a victim surcharge of £170.
•    Landmark Ltd – Fine £11,045.30, costs £1,821.40 and a victim surcharge of £170.

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