A Horndean resident has been made to pay more than £10,000 after uprooting protected trees and turning land into his own private garden.
Mark Funnell (55), of Lith Avenue, has pleaded guilty to felling trees that were under the protection of an East Hampshire District Council Woodland Tree Preservation Order.
Last year, the council’s planning enforcement officers discovered a woodland near Funnell’s home had been replaced with a lawn, a tarmac drive, sheds and other residential items.
Officers were first aware of the site in January 2020, when it was reported a large digger was destroying the protected woodland. Officers spoke to Funnell and ordered him to cease work there.
However, a follow up inspection in the summer showed the entire woodland area had been removed and subsumed into Funnell’s garden.
He appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Friday 3 December charged with the offence of causing the cutting down, and wilful destruction of trees in such a manner as likely to destroy them.
He denied the charge but following evidence heard from EHDC’s officers, and advice from his own barrister, Funnell pleaded guilty to causing the cutting down of two trees in breach of the TPO.
As a result, he was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,030 and a victim surcharge of £181.
Cllr Ingrid Thomas, EHDC Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood Quality, said: “EHDC has a duty protect our environment and our trees and we take breaches of our TPOs very seriously.
“It’s important that our residents know that we will prosecute anyone who disregards these protective orders, just as we have done in this case.”