Chorley tree row leads to businessman being £10,000 out of pocket

Andrew Roberts
Andrew Roberts

A row about cutting boughs from protected trees has ended with a businessman £10,000 out of pocket.

Andrew Roberts said he had cut the branches after storm damage had left them at risk of falling onto walkers who have access to Scarscow Farm in Eccleston, close to the Chorley and Leyland border.

But Chorley Council had imposed a TPO (tree preservation order) on Scarscow Lane, and councillors had previously accused of “cocking a snook” at the planning process after removing the branches in an attempt to get temporary office units down a private lane and onto the farm.

READ MORE: Tree-cutting controversy at town hall as councillors and businessman clash

A previous council planning meeting to discuss retrospective permission to install mobile units at the farm was told committee member John Dalton visited the site to find the applicant “chainsaw in hand” and the units themselves “stuck”.

But the businessman said: “As the owner of this land, I have an obligation to make sure it is kept safe and that is exactly what I’ve done. The units weren’t stuck - they were stopped by me because I was finishing doing the work on the trees.

“I’m an experienced tree surgeon and I’ve taken the limb back to the grow point.”

Mr Roberts had also argued he was not aware the TPO had been made permanent.

Mr Roberts, 33, of Lostock Hall Gatehouse, Ox Hey Lane, Lostock, Bolton, has since pleaded guilty before Lancaster magistrates to two counts contravening a tree preservation order made by Chorley Borough Council in September last year.

The bench ordered him to pay a £1,360 fine with a £100 surcharge and £8,940 costs.

After the court hearing he said: “The court were aware of Chorley council’s procedural failings, and issued a “very small fine”.

“Had they followed government guidelines properly then there would have been no confusion, and neither party would be in this inconvenient position.

“We are glad to be able to put this behind us and back to focusing on our work, creating employment, and playing our charitable part within the local community.”