Crawley man fined for cutting down protected trees

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A man has been fined for cutting down protected trees.

Muzaffar Hussain, 45, of Grattons Drive, Pound Hill, was convicted of causing the destruction of five protected Leyland cypress trees.

Hussain, who denied the charge, was fined £2,500, with a victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £3,325.

Chichester Magistrates’ Court heard evidence on Tuesday (28 July) from Crawley Borough Council’s Senior planning investigation officer that he had visited Mr Hussain twice in June 2014.

On the second occasion a copy of a tree preservation order covering the premises, together with a letter explaining that to carry out works to any of the trees without permission would be a criminal offence, was served to Hussain.

The court heard that three days later Mr Hussain engaged the services of a tree surgeon, falsely claiming that the council had confirmed that works could go ahead, resulting in the felling of five trees. Further destruction was only averted by the intervention of a neighbour who told the tree surgeon that the trees were protected, leading to his stopping work immediately, said coumcil spokesman.

Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “Crawley takes seriously its responsibility to preserve the amenity value provided by trees and will take action against people who wilfully flout the law.

“We also have the power to require the offender to replace the trees that he has destroyed and a notice to this effect is in the process of being prepared.”

Works to protected trees require planning permission, for which the application must be made to Crawley Borough Council.

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