Man who illegally destroyed protected trees is fined £16,000

Updated: 20 October 2021

A Northwood resident who destroyed protected trees on his property has been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,946.

A Northwood resident who destroyed protected trees on his property has been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,946.

Dilpreet Singh, aged 27 of Astons Road, pleaded guilty to causing or permitting wilful destruction to five protected trees – a mature yew, four semi-mature Lawson cypress trees as well as causing damage to a mature oak and two mature beech trees.

Mr Singh was prosecuted by Three Rivers District Council for the offences.

In his sentencing remarks at St Albans Crown Court, His Honour Judge Simon said: “There may be some who question why the weight of the criminal justice system is brought to bear upon offences of this nature. However, few would question that the theft of treasured items should be punished by the courts. The Local Planning Authority are the custodians of the treasures of their district.”

He added: “You would expect the defendant to have a modicum of appreciation for the special character of the area and his house. However, under the defendant’s ownership, trees in the front garden of the property were destroyed and trees at the rear were damaged without the consent of the Local Planning Authority. There is evidence that that continued even after an officer of the LPA visited the site and he was given advice both orally and in writing.”

All of the trees in the garden of the defendant’s house in Astons Road were protected by virtue of being within the Moor Park Conservation Area. In addition, three of the trees in the rear garden - an oak and two beech - were afforded the additional protection of a Tree Preservation Order.

Cllr Sarah Nelmes, the Leader of Three Rivers District Council, said: “By continuing to prosecute those who disregard the law around protected trees we hope a clear message goes out that we simply will not tolerate this sort of behaviour. These trees have been protected for very good reasons and no one should consider themselves above the law in Three Rivers. These mature trees are precious and have grown over many years and it is simply unacceptable that anyone thinks they have the right to take the law into their own hands and harm or destroy them.”

The defendant was also ordered to pay the victim surcharges of £170 in respect of the Crown Court matters and £160 in respect of the Magistrates’ Court matters.