A man has been fined £20,000 for removing and damaging trees in the Peak District – in a ‘landmark victory’.
An area of 530 square metres of woodland, including 16 mature trees and 9 young trees, was destroyed in September 2015.
Developer Mark Boulby purchased the plot, which lies in a belt of woodland below Froggatt Edge, in mid-September 2015 and two days later moved heavy machinery on to the site to clear the trees.
The illegal activity was reported to Peak District National Park (PDNPA) tree conservation officers who investigated the case.
In September, Boulby pleaded guilty to illegally cutting down and uprooting trees from woodland in the Conservation Area at Froggatt. He was convicted and fined last week.
Sheffield magistrates’ court imposed the fine of £20,000 and ordered Boulby to pay costs of over £5,000 to the PDNPA.
In addition, Boulby is to restore the site to an agreed Restoration Plan by July 31, 2017, and must not take heavy machinery on to the cleared area for five years to enable the land to regenerate.
John Scott, director of conservation and planning in the PDNPA, said: “This is the first time we have prosecuted a landowner for harming trees but the damage was so severe and deliberate it was our duty to pursue it.
“It’s a landmark victory and sends out a clear message that we do not tolerate the wilful destruction of protected trees and habitat in the national park.
“Criminal damage to the environment is a serious offence and this case demonstrates that serious penalties can be incurred.
“Happily, this is an exception and as a rule we have an excellent track record of working with landowners to provide advice and agree positive management for trees and woodland.”