Yorkshire businessman fined by court for pruning 150 protected trees illegally on his land

A Yorkshire landowner has been fined for illegally pruning around 150 trees.
One of the trees that was illegally prunedOne of the trees that was illegally pruned
One of the trees that was illegally pruned

Leeds City Council prosecuted John Ogden, of Ilkley, over the incident involving protected species of tree on agricultural land at Thorpe Lane in Guiseley last spring.

Limbs were torn from many of the trees using heavy machinery, with oaks, sycamores, limes and horse chestnuts among the species affected.

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As the site is covered by a woodland Tree Preservation Order (TPO), formal permission should have been sought before the work was carried out but this was never obtained.

Following an investigation that involved planning enforcement, tree and legal teams from the council, Mr Ogden was told to pay £13,840 in fines, costs and victim surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching a TPO when he appeared before magistrates on Tuesday.

The council today welcomed the result of the case, saying it should serve as a reminder that Leeds is ready to take necessary and proportionate action to protect its tree stock.

Coun Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said:

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“We take any damage to our city’s trees extremely seriously and, where wrongdoing has been committed, we are fully prepared to use the enforcement powers that are available to us.

“Protecting our tree stock and increasing tree cover across the city is important to the council as it aligns with our net zero and ecology ambitions.

“I would like to thank all the officers who worked on this case for their diligence and determination in securing the outcome we saw at court this week.

“It was a joined-up approach with a successful result that will hopefully act as a warning to anyone who is considering flouting the rules on felling and pruning trees in our city.”

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The unauthorised work on the trees at the Thorpe Lane site – close to the A65 roundabout – was said by the defendant to have been carried out to facilitate the installation of new fencing.

In 2017, Ogden invoked the ire of Ilkley residents when he removed a boundary fence around his home on Victoria Avenue.

A contractor he hired removed the fence before Bradford Council took enforcement action after neighbours objected to the land being ‘appropriated’ without permission.

Mr Ogden was served with a formal notice asking him to apply for a change of use for the land, which was an unadopted highway.