Harleston farmer hails tree hacking judgement

A Norfolk farmer said that he hoped the successful prosecution of a man who felled and damaged a mature belt of trees on agricultural land backing on to his home at Harleston because he claimed it affected his TV reception, would send out a warning to others who encroached on private farming land.

Andrew Partridge, 55, was yesterday found guilty of causing criminal damage when he cut down 11 trees and damaged a futher 21 trees by cutting back branches on the trees, which were on agricultural land backing on to his home in Henry Ward Road.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Partridge, a HGV lorry driver, already had warnings in the past about cutting back the trees which he ignored and Partidge had even been asked to stop by the landowner Julian Taylor, who is also vice-chairman of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Taylor, a seventh generation arable farmer at Starston who also sits on the regional committee for the county landowners and business association, said that while farmers wanted to co-exist in harmony with neighbouring housing estates it sent out a warning shot to anyone who encroached on private farming land.

He said the trees destroyed had been planted in the 1970s before the housing estate was built to provide a natural screen for the agricultural land, which was in an area of natural outstanding beauty. The screen also provides a natural habitat for wildlife.

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He said: 'We hope to co-exist and new housing estates themselves have to be screened and planting is specified.

'The whole point in this case was to screen the housing estate. We put it in before the housing estate was built. It gave us a two or three-year start.'

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He said that because of what Partridge had done there would have to be replanting and it would take 10 to 15 years before the damage could be repaired.

He added that in the past both he and a police officer had spoken to Partridge about removing and cutting back the trees and he had tried to resolve the problem without it coming to court.

During the trial the jury, who took just over five hours to convict Partridge, heard how he had moved into the property in 2009. He claimed he had only cut down three trees in July, which were within the boundaries of adjoining properties, and also had removed dead branches from Scots pines but denied causing the damage to the other trees.

He said he had removed the dead branches as children played in the area and he was worried that one of the falling branches might damage his conservatory or injure a child. He also said the trees affected his TV reception.

He said he had got permission from his neighbours to cut down the trees which were within their boundaries and claimed two of the three trees he cut down were dead.

After he was found guilty Judge Alasdair Darroch adjourned sentence until September 23 and said he had in mind imposing a financial penalty and unpaid work.


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