THE culprits who illegally chopped down more than 100 protected trees and damaged seven others have been fined nearly £20,000, Woking Borough Council said.

A landowner, together with its contractor, was prosecuted and fined for the unauthorised felling of the trees in Pyrford after pleading guilty at Guildford Magistrates’ Court.

Burhill Development admitted it ignored a tree preservation order on its land near Upshot Lane and was made to pay £15,140, comprising fines of £11,000, a victim surcharge of £2,000 and costs of £2,140.

Its contractor, P&A Services, which carried out the work, also pleaded guilty to the unauthorised felling and causing damage to the protected trees and was ordered to pay a total of £2,900;  fines of £1,000; a victim surcharge of £400; and council costs of £1,500.

The action was taken against the two firms by Woking Borough Council. The original hearing took place in October 2023 with the judge issuing sentence in March 2024.

Forestry Journal:

Speaking about the prosecution, Beverley Kuchar, Woking Borough Council’s strategic director for place, described it as an “important case” and welcomed the decision.

She said: “Whether you permit or cause wilful damage to our environment we will take legal action wherever necessary.

“It is important that landowners and their contractors take the necessary steps to understand what consent is required before commencing tree works.

“The status of the borough’s trees can be checked quickly and simply online. If in doubt, our arboricultural team can provide advice in advance of any works commencing.

“There is no excuse and, as in this case, failure to do so can lead to a criminal prosecution and significant fines.”

Tree Preservation Orders protect specific trees, groups of trees, or woodland that benefit the wider community.