Gardeners could be slapped with hefty £20,000 fine for common garden task

Gardeners could be slapped with a £20,000 fine for carrying out a simple gardening task, according to experts.

Paul Chappell, the owner of forestry tool supply company DTW Tools, said gardeners need to “be aware” of the laws when it comes to removing and caring for trees.

He said: “It is a fineable offence to cut down, uproot and destroy any distressed or damaged tree that is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), in a Conservation Area or over five cubic metres in volume.”

He added: “Anyone who breaches the rules may be fined up to £20,000, prosecuted for felling without a licence, and served a notice to replace any protected trees that have been destroyed. Serious offences may be subject to unlimited fines.”

Tree preservation orders mean that work cannot be carried out on a tree unless a local authority has given you permission.

Breaching a tree preservation order is a criminal offence which can be punishable by an unlimited fine.

The individual who damaged the tree is the one who is liable for the breach, according to LPL Property Lawyers.

Work on a tree includes chopping down, topping, lopping, uprooting, damaging or destroying a tree or its roots.

The local authority could recover money under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 if the home increases in value because a tree has been lopped or removed.

One homeowner in Canford Cliffs, Dorset was caught out by the rules in 2019, according to LPL Property Lawyers.

The homeowner lopped branches from an oak tree that was protected under a TPO because it was blocking sunlight to their Juliet balcony.

The homeowner was fined £1,200 but then had a further £21,000 confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act to reflect the home’s increased value.

The person also had to pay the local authority’s legal costs of £15,000.


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