Leeds City Council has issued a warning concerning the unauthorised cutting and trimming of trees, following legal action that resulted in a substantial fine for a local landowner.

The council pursued the prosecution after 150 protected trees were damaged on agricultural land at Thorpe Lane in Guiseley between March and May of this year.

Heavy machinery was used to tear limbs from numerous trees, impacting species such as oaks, sycamores, limes, and horse chestnuts.

Since the site is subject to a woodland Tree Preservation Order (TPO), formal permission should have been obtained before the work, but this was neglected.

After an investigation involving planning enforcement, tree, and legal teams from the council, a prosecution was initiated against the landowner, John Ogden, residing on Victoria Avenue, Ilkley.

Mr Ogden was instructed to pay £13,840 in fines, costs, and a victim surcharge after admitting to breaching a TPO during his appearance before magistrates on Tuesday (November 14).

The council expressed satisfaction with the case’s outcome, emphasizing that it serves as a reminder of Leeds’ readiness to take necessary and proportionate measures to safeguard its tree population.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said; “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.”

The unauthorised tree work at the Thorpe Lane site, near the A65 roundabout, was claimed by the defendant to be necessary for installing new fencing.

Additional information on the measures in place to protect trees in Leeds can be accessed on the council’s website: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/planning/conservation-protection-and-heritage/tree-works-and-preservation