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Farnborough man fined over £8,000 for illegally cutting down trees

Farnborough man fined over £8,000 for illegally cutting down trees

Published by Lucinda Horsley at 10:26am 18th April 2019. (Updated at 1:07pm 19th April 2019)

A Camberley developer, who illegally cut down 27 protected trees in Farnborough, has been fined over £8,000.

Abbi Guy Soufi, 64, has bought the land near Gladiator Way at an auction in May 2018, with a view to building a retirement complex and a swimming pool.

In court he admitted a charge of cutting down the trees, including 23 oak trees and four sycamore trees, over the weekend of 9 and 10 June 2018. 

The offence reported by several members of the public.

It was the subject of a Tree Preservation Order 466(A), contrary to Section 210(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The 64-year-old was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay Rushmoor Borough Council’s costs of £2,886 and a victim surcharge of £170.

He will also have to re-plant the trees he felled. 

In mitigation, Mr Kevin Izod, acting for Mr Soufi, claimed that although a TPO for the site had been registered on 20 June 2016 and confirmed in December 2016, the confirmation document was not on the council’s website.

Therefore, he claimed, it would have been reasonable to assume the TPO had lapsed, if anyone had checked the council’s website.

However, legally, councils do not have to place all TPOs and confirmation documents on their website and developers are expected to make first-hand checks directly with the land charges section on this.

The court was told that Rushmoor Borough Council had no record of any check being made, which would have shown the confirmation of the TPO was made on 13 December 2016.

Rushmoor Borough Council’s Head of Economy, Planning and Strategic Housing, Tim Mills said:

“The onus is on any responsible developer to carry out a proper check directly with our land charges section before carrying out any work on trees in a protected area. Mr Soufi clearly did not do so.

"He could have saved himself thousands of pounds with a simple phone call or a visit - and this would have prevented the decimation of these valuable, protected trees. We will be making sure every one of these trees is replaced.

“Hopefully this will serve as a warning that we take the protection of our borough’s natural environment, green space and trees very seriously.”

 

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