Two men have been prosecuted after illegally felling an acre of woodland near Leatherhead.

Andrew Egby and Charles Green both pleaded guilty to felling 40 Oak and other trees from an area of woodland along Oaklawn Road in North Leatherhead at Guildford Magistrates' Court last Monday (January 13).

All the trees they chopped down were protected under a designated Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

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The investigation into the men's criminality was led by Mole Valley District Council (MVDC).

A spokesperson from the district council described how landowner Egby was caught felling the trees back in May 2019 without seeking advice or permission.

"Mr Egby defended his actions at that time by arguing that the TPO was not valid.

"Mr Green told MVDC he completed the work on the understanding the trees were not protected.

"MVDC was able to prove that the trees felled had in fact been protected under a TPO," the spokesperson described.

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Councillor Margaret Cooksey, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “Land owners, developers and contractors alike have a duty to conserve protected trees and comply with the tree protection regulations by seeking advice from us and take necessary precautions.

"We treat the unauthorised destruction of protected trees very seriously. The removal of mature trees can cause significant harm to the character of the district and we will always seek to take legal action where appropriate.”

MVDC has issued a Tree Replacement Notice which requires forty new mature trees to be planted at the site in the next 12 months by Egby, the landowner.

Egby was ordered to pay a £3,000 fine and MVDC’s costs of £2,000.

Green was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 costs.