Caravan park firm fined £3K for chopping down 121 protected trees

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

The owners of a Derbyshire hillside caravan park have been fined more than £3,000 after it ordered 121 protected trees to be chopped down.

Anthony Barney, director of Haytop Country Park in Whatstandwell, paid lumberjack David Stephens to fell the trees on its site close to Shining Cliff Woods.

But he and his company failed to get permission from Amber Valley Borough Council for the work at the woodland, which was protected by a tree preservation order.

The site before the trees were chopped down

The site before the trees were chopped down

Barney’s firm, Haytop Country Park Ltd, has been now been fined £3,260 while Stephens and his company, Premier Tree Care Conservation Ltd, have been fined £720 after they admitting breaching regulations.

But the sentence has been blasted as “an insult” by an action group set up in the aftermath of the tree felling.

Jonathan Owen, prosecuting on behalf of Amber Valley Borough Council at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court, said: “On March 17, 2017, the council received reports that trees were being felled at Haytop Country Park, near Shining Cliff Woods, at Whatstandwell.

Read More

What's been happening in the courts?

  • Nathan Bray was already subject of a sexual harm prevention order

    Derby fork-lift driver pervert

  • Ian Warren

    Paedophile jailed

  • Fabio Mane and Hakeem Blackwood have both been jailed

    Dealers swallow heroin

  • Would you know if you were over the drink-driving limit?

    Husband shops in wife

“No consent had been granted by the council so its then tree preservation officer, Ross Pearson, visited the site.

“He could not get access so parked his car close to the A6 and walked on to the site where he saw three men felling trees.

“One of them confirmed he was David Stephens and that he had been contracted to fell them.

L-R: Gavin Cunningham, David Stephens and Anthony Barney all arriving at court

From left, Gavin Cunningham, David Stephens and Anthony Barney all arriving at court

“Mr Stephens said he was not aware that there were tree preservation order in place and said they would be exempt because some of them were old and damaged.”

Mr Owen said Mr Pearson ordered that the work be stopped and it was - but he returned three days later and discovered that a total of 121 tress of mixed types and ages had been chopped down.

An investigation was launched during which Haytop Country Park Ltd said it did know that the orders were in place and that it had acted on advice from an agent that consent was not needed to chop the trees down.

The court was told that the felling was part of improvements at the site, which has been a caravan park form more than 50 years.

Haytop Country Park Ltd, which is registered to an address at Friars Well Estate in Wartnaby, Leicestershire, and Stephens, of Ashford Road, Staines, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to charges that they contravened tree preservation regulations.

As well as the fines, Haytop, which was represented in court by Barney and Gavin Cunningham, was ordered to pay £4,500 costs and Stephens, £1,500.

Richard Harwood QC, for Haytop, said: “One director, Anthony Barney, has taken responsibility and we are extremely sorry and apologise to the court and the local authority.”

Stephens, representing himself, said he was unaware of the orders and was acting on instructions from Haytop when he and his workers cut the trees down.

Trees being felled despite having tree preservation orders on them in Whatstandwell

Trees being felled at the site near Whatstandwell which was covered by a tree preservation order

Members of the Haytop Country Park Action Group were in court to see the men sentenced. The group was set up following the felling of the trees and is made up of people who live in and enjoy the area’s recreational facilities.

Speaking afterwards, a spokeswoman said: “This is a drop in the ocean for someone like Mr Barney. It’s an insult and a disgrace of a sentence.”