Resident fined for damage to a protected tree

A local man from Church Crookham was taken to court by Hart District Council following the poisoning of an oak protected by a tree preservation order.

On 24 January Basingstoke Magistrates Court found the resident guilty of the offence which resulted in a fine of £1,600, including £500 costs.

The Council had been made aware of the tree failing to come into leaf in late spring 2018. Tree Officers found that the tree had over 20 drill holes around the base. When interviewed under caution, the resident admitted drilling the holes and pouring herbicide into them. He did so out of frustration after the Council had recently refused permission to fell the tree and he believed it to be dangerous.

Adam Maskill, Senior Tree Officer for Hart District Council, said "In this case there was no evidence to suggest that the tree was dangerous. If you have concerns over the safety of your tree, you should obtain expert advice from a suitable professional. The Arboricultural Association provide a list of Registered Consultants who are competent to provide this information. This information can be found at www.trees.org.uk/Registered-Consultant-Directory.”

Cllr David Neighbour, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Countryside Services, added: "If members of the public are aggrieved at Council decisions, they are advised to obtain objective, expert advice and to consider submitting an appeal to the Secretary of State. In this case, the resident took matters into their own hands and destroyed a perfectly healthy oak tree which could have benefited the environment and community for centuries. The Council was left no option but to refer the case to the Magistrates Court."

For more information about protected trees and working on a tree in a conservation area please visit the Council’s website www.hart.gov.uk/trees-hedges.

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