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Volume 687: debated on Wednesday 6 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the maximum possible penalty in cases in which (a) one tree is subject to a tree preservation order; (b) 10 such trees are destroyed; and (c) more than 10 such trees are destroyed.[HL464]

The maximum penalty, in the magistrates' court for unlawfully destroying a tree protected by a tree preservation order is a fine of £20,000. The maximum penalty in cases where 10, or more than 10, trees are destroyed is £20,000 per tree. Alternatively, cases may be pursued in the Crown Court, where the fine is unlimited. In determining the level of any fine, both courts are required to have regard to any financial benefit that accrues as a consequence of the offence.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, when trees that are subject to a tree preservation order are unlawfully destroyed, planning permission for building development that would not have been granted if the trees had survived can then be granted subject to any other conditions being fulfilled.[HL465]

Any application for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The unlawful destruction of protected trees does not automatically render land suitable for development. Under Section 206 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the landowner is under a duty to plant replacement trees at the same place. These trees are automatically protected by the original tree preservation order. This duty to replace the trees, if enforced by the local planning authority, would be material to its consideration of a separate application to develop the land.