Prosecution for drill killing of protected tree 'a warning'
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Broads bosses have said "we hope this acts as a warning" after successfully prosecuting a landowner for trying to kill a protected tree.
The landowner admitted to drilling holes in a tree in the Oulton Broad conservation area and filling them with fungal pellets as part of a plan to rebuild a house.
The work was discovered when the authority’s tree consultant visited the site following the submission of a planning application to replace an uninhabitable property on Broad View Road, including tree removal.
In total, 18 holes were discovered on the tree, some with mushrooms growing inside.
The landowner took responsibility for the work and admitted it was “foolish and ill-considered".
On Friday, the Broads Authority heard that the tree's removal could increase the value of a replacement house.
Bill Dickson queried if there were alternative options that should be taken rather than prosecution, given the landowner had admitted fault.
Officer Cally Smith said they had considered other options before bringing the case to the authority, including whether they should demand a replacement tree.
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“Not only did they know it was a protected tree but they knew that planning officers would object to its removal.
“If there was genuine remorse for the work they have done they could’ve come to us but that didn’t happen and it was almost a year before we were made aware of it.”
Ms Smith added there was also a public interest in the prosecution and not pursuing the case would be “undermining our position as a public authority”.
Fran Whymark agreed they had to prosecute, saying: “Otherwise, anyone who wants to get rid of a tree will feel carte blanche to do so.”
The recommendation to prosecute passed unanimously.
The chair of the planning committee, Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro, said: “There was little else we could do on this occasion.
“We hope this will be a warning to anybody else who decided to attempt to pull wool over our eyes with regards to these beautiful trees.”