Man ignored council to chop down 'healthy' and mature protected trees

Anthony McCann claimed the trees had significant dead wood and root damage due to house building work.

Man ignored East Ayrshire Council and chopped down protected mature oak trees iStock

A Stewarton resident is being reported to the procurator fiscal after ignoring East Ayrshire Council and chopping down two “healthy” protected mature oak trees.

He will also be told to replace the trees that were removed without authorisation.

Anthony McCann, of Fishers Grove, had sought permission from the council to fell the trees last April. While the trees were in his back garden, they also fell under the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that covers Lainshaw Woods.

Mr McCann said that there were a number of reasons for the application.

They included significant dead wood, broken and damaged branches within the crowns, evidence of old wounds where branches had fallen during windy conditions and the likelihood of root damage caused by close proximity to this home during building work.

He added that one tree had dropped a large limb that required a mechanical excavator to remove.

Mr McCann argued that the trees should have been removed prior to construction, as had happened elsewhere in the estate.

The householder also said it had resulted in bird faeces across pathways and garden furniture.

However, in July 2021, East Ayrshire Council’s in-house tree expert, or arborist, was clear that the issues could be addressed without felling the trees.

Planners contacted Mr McCann, telling him the arborist’s view would have to be taken on board and the application amended.

However, they said that Mr McCann refused to make any amendments and claimed that three independent tree surgeons had agreed that the trees should be felled.

They added that the homeowner failed to provide any supplementary reports from the tree surgeons themselves to back up the claim.

In October, the arborist expanded on his position and said: “I agree with the three assessments of branch damage on the trees. However, in my opinion, most of the main structural wood appeared to be in a healthy condition and the doesn’t warrant removal of the TPO’d trees on safety grounds.”

The planning report once again pointed out that the applicant had still not provided evidence justifying the application to fell the trees.

Then, in May this year, the arborist made a site visit, only to discover the trees had been removed without any permission.

The report stated: “At this time, it was discovered that the works had already been undertaken with the trees being completely felled and stumps ground up and soil and grass covering the site of the trees.”

In addition, the report stated that ‘the rear garden fence had been removed and it appeared the property owners were attempted to extend their garden into the privately-owned TPO’d woodland area behind the property’.

The arborist continued: “Two matured oak trees had been felled without permission, with parts of the trees still present within the wood. On inspection of these tree parts, I could find no sign of decay indicating that both trees were in a relatively healthy condition before being felled.”

Planners recommended a report be prepared and submitted to the procurator fiscal regarding the unauthorised removal of the trees.

They also recommended approaching the owner to plant trees of an appropriate size and species at the same location.

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