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Magistrates issue fine over tree felling

How the tree in Dent Conservation Area looks now

York Magistrates’ Court has fined a South Lakeland woman £2,000 for carrying out unauthorised works to a healthy and prominent 200-year old tree in the Dent Conservation Area.

Margaret Taylor, of High Laning caravan and campsite in Dent, had the canopy of the sycamore completely removed on 21 March 2019, leaving only the stem of the tree.

She admitted breaching section 211 of the Town and Country Planning Act, but was absent for the court hearing on Tuesday (14 Jan).  In addition to the fine she was ordered to pay the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s legal costs of £1,322.50 and a Victim Surcharge of £170.

The tree surgeon who carried out the unauthorised works pleaded not guilty and will appear before York Crown Court on the 17th of February.

The unauthorised work to the sycamore tree at High Laning was reported to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority by a member of the public.  In a witness statement to the court, an Authority officer said the tree would now “die slowly”, making the extent of the damage “tantamount to felling”.

It is the second time in three months that the National Park Authority has brought a prosecution over tree felling.  In November, two men pleaded guilty to destroying a tree in the Gayle Conservation Area in the Richmondshire part of the National Park.

Member Champion for Natural Environment at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Ian McPherson, said:  “I hope this case serves as a deterrent. Trees in conservation areas are protected – and for good reason.  The sycamore at High Laning near the centre of Dent village made a significant contribution to the local environment and it is a great shame that it has been lost.”

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