A MAN was arrested after more than 100 protected trees were felled in a young woodland in Greater London. 

Police were called to a field beside Cator Park in Beckenham last Saturday, June 10, after receiving reports from residents in the morning that a number of trees in the area had been chopped down.

While the man – in his 30s – was later released on bail, officers have confirmed a number of items were seized as part of their investigation. 

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A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: "Officers responded and spoke to a man, aged in his 30s, advising work to cease. Officers returned after they were informed that the felling had continued. 

"One man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken into custody. He was later released on bail. A number of items of tree felling equipment were seized.”

A Friends of Cator Park spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the space had been regularly used by local residents to walk their dogs for the past 15 years. They said that a tree preservation order was put in place by Bromley Council last week, protecting all trees in the space for six months. 

Forestry Journal:

They said the space had developed a number of natural oak trees in the past 20 years, while also being home to several bats and birds such as kingfishers and woodpeckers.

Labour councillor Kathy Bance, representing the Penge and Cator ward for Bromley Council, said: “I’ve seen residents in tears because of the devastation that’s been caused. This really is probably one of the nicest parks in the whole of our area in Penge and it’s of huge environmental value to us.”

Anna Taylor, director of CPRE London, said it could take decades to replace the number of trees that had been cut down. 

She added: “This is a really precious area to the community. It’s sort of almost a nature reserve. It doesn’t have official nature reserve status, but this is a naturally seeded oak woodland, which is a really rare environment in London.”

A Bromley Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of this very sad incident, which can only be described as environmental destruction, where 131 protected trees have been destroyed. This was a thriving young woodland that was valued by many locally and we are now investigating what has happened here.”

They added: “This is a serious matter, with anyone who is founin d guilty of committing an offence which contravenes Section 210 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 being fined up to £20,000 at a Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine at Crown Court.

"We are grateful to local residents who have already come forward to help with that investigation, which is at its early stages.”