Two companies which chopped down 39 protected trees at Clayton West have been fined thousands of pounds and ordered to replace them.

Kirklees Council secured the conviction of two companies and their directors for the felling of 39 protected trees and an area of saplings on the site of the former Earth’s Wood Caravan Park.

The offences, committed in May 2019, were in contravention of a Kirklees Council Tree Preservation Order which is covered under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

After initial not guilty pleas at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court in March 2020, a trial date was set for March 29. Shortly before the trial went ahead, all parties changed their pleas to guilty. In total, including costs and charges, the court ordered that £15,796 be paid.

The owner of the land, Earthswood Country Park Limited, of 213 Cromford Road, Langley Mill, Nottingham, must pay £5,625.

Directors of the company were also fined, with Mr Anthony Barney ordered to pay £4,044 and Mrs Donna Barney an amount of £1,267.

The contractor that felled the trees, Premier Tree Care and Conservation of Manor House Farm, Ashford Road, Laleham Village, Surrey, was fined £4,125. Director of the company, Mr David Stephens, was ordered to pay £708.

Some of the felled trees

David Shepherd, strategic director for growth and regeneration, said: “It is important to understand the value of the woodland and the impact removing tress can have on our environment.

“The felling of these trees and saplings stripped away the woodland edge which adversely affected the woodland structure, wildlife habitats and public space that the Tree Preservation Order was in place to protect.

“The result in court was a welcome one. We will work to ensure the landowner now fulfils their legal duty by replanting all 39 trees.”

Tree Preservation Orders are put into place by local authorities to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands where the loss of them would have a significant negative impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public.

Anyone wishing to carry out work on trees, protected or not can find information on the council’s website.