Successful prosecution against mass destruction of protected trees

Borough of Poole has successfully prosecuted a local man who carried out the unlawful felling of 11 protected trees at a property in Merley. 

At Poole Magistrates Court on 25 April 2018, David Matthews pleaded guilty to the wilful destruction of the protected trees, including a mature oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees, in the garden of his property in Arrowsmith Road. 

The court heard that on 12 February 2018, the council received information that a significant number of trees, which were protected by a Tree Preservation Order, had been felled without permission during the weekend of 10 and 11 February 2018. 

The court was also told by the council’s prosecutor that Mr Matthews had previously breached a Tree Preservation Order in 2015 and this had been dealt with by a strongly written warning and replanting of new trees. 

Andy Dearing, Enforcement Team Manager, Borough of Poole said: “The destruction of these 11 protected trees is the worst environmental crime of its kind we have seen in Poole.” 

“Over the years the council has shown a strong commitment to protecting Poole’s environment and we will continue to investigate matters brought to our attention and pursue prosecution where appropriate.” 

Cllr Jane Newell, Ward Member for Merley and Bearwood, said: "There are strict rules protecting trees to provide wildlife habitats contributing to the ecological balance of our countryside. These rules have clearly been breached. It will take hundreds of years for new trees to grow and replace those brutally felled. I am pleased that council officers have acted swiftly and brought about a successful prosecution."

Cllr Marion Pope, Ward Member for Merley and Bearwood, added: "I'm grateful to everyone who had a hand in bringing this man to justice. In Merley and Bearwood we are in a constant battle to preserve our green infrastructure and wildlife habitats." 

Sentencing will take place on 24 May 2018 at Bournemouth Crown Court. 

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