Huge fines dished out after trees felled illegally in Chesterfield

The case was heard at Chesterfield magistrates' court.
The case was heard at Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A housing developer and two contractors have received hefty fines totalling more than £25,000 after illegally felling trees at a development in Chesterfield.

One Cherry tree and one Lombardy Poplar tree, which were subject to a preservation order, were cut down at Pomegranate Park in Newbold when the new housing development was built.

The felled trees at the Pomegranate Park development. Picture submitted by Chesterfield Borough Council.

The felled trees at the Pomegranate Park development. Picture submitted by Chesterfield Borough Council.

Avant Homes (England) Ltd subcontracted Builders UK and Bridgebank Ltd to build the new homes.

All three pleaded guilty to breaching the terms of the order in a prosecution brought by Chesterfield Borough Council.

A borough council spokesman said: "The protected trees should have had fencing around them to prevent damage to them or their root systems.

"There should also have been signs telling contractors it was a tree preservation area.

"In some places on the site this fencing was removed and heavy machinery was used in the tree protection area, damaging the roots of some trees."

In a recent hearing at Chesterfield magistrates' court, District Judge Taff said tree preservation orders are in place for the benefit of the public.

He also said that there had been 'systematic mismanagement' and 'systematic negligence' by Avant Homes (England) Ltd at Pomegranate Park, which led to the breaches of the tree preservation order.

Avant Homes (England) Ltd was fined a total of £21,600, plus costs of £1,643.37 and a £170 victim surcharge, making a total of £23,413.37.

Builders UK was fined £1,500, plus costs of £1,066.61 and a £150 victim surcharge, making a total of £2,716.61.

Bridgebank Ltd was sentenced at an earlier hearing and received a fine of £1,600 plus £100 costs and a £120 victim surcharge, making a total of £1,820.

Councillor Terry Gilby, the borough council's cabinet member for economic growth, said: "Trees and woodland are important for wildlife and make an area more attractive.

"Tree preservation orders are designed to protect trees from destruction and damage.

"In this case, the developer and contractors removed fencing and signs around the trees and trees were destroyed and damaged.

"This is a serious matter and the levels of the fines given reflect this."