You might have thought you were free to prune any tree in your garden that you like - especially if it's blocking your view or stealing your light. However, one man in Peterborough has found out the hard way that in some cases the tree has more rights than you do.
It has cost him an impressive £1,000 fine.
FinedMohammed Hussein, a 38-year-old from The Drive in Peterborough, did prune the tree fairly dramatically. The Daily Mail reported that he had removed around half the branches from the 50ft horse chestnut in his front garden. A neighbour contacted the council, who took him to court. He was fined £500, and made to pay the council's costs of £525, plus a £50 surcharge.
The issue here is that the tree had a preservation order on it. These are applied to trees which are considered to be important to the character of the area. When a tree is covered by an order you cannot take it down or damage it - or indeed touch it in any way without the permission of the council.
Darren Sharpe, the council's natural and historic environment manager, told the Peterborough Telegraph: "We felt the tree was a significant landmark in the area. The severe pruning and removal of the lower branches were harmful to the tree's health and appearance. We hope this case acts as a reminder to tree owners that they need to know if any preservation orders are in effect. If there are, then they need to apply for consent to carry out any work or they could find themselves in court."
Tree troubleAnd Hussein is not the first person to get into financial trouble over a tree.
We reported last summer about the neighbours in Cannock, Staffordshire, who had been rowing for 17 years about trees. One homeowner had planted eight conifer trees, which had grown out of control. The family next door ended up taking them to court in their fight to get them pruned.
Two months earlier we reported on the property developer who had to pay more than £28,000 after destroying a yew tree in order to make more parking space at a property he owned in Chester. The tree had a preservation order, and was in a conservation area, but instead of applying for permission to take it down he dug around it and in the process caused so much damage that it had to be removed. The council took him to court where he was made to pay the sum - which included the value that the court calculated he had added to the property by creating a parking space.
But perhaps the biggest charge for chopping down a tree was made by a court in November 2012. A homeowner decided that his neighbour's protected tree was blocking the view from his hot tub, so while his neighbour was away he chopped it down. A court ruled that he should pay £50,000 to cover the increase in value of his own property from removing the tree and a fine of £75,000. He also had to pay £14,500 costs to Poole Council, and replace the tree with one of the same species.
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