At Brecon Magistrates’ Court on Friday 11th December after pleading guilty to felling seven mature cherry trees in the Talgarth Conservation Area, Mr Arwyn Davies, Director of Wyro Developments was fined £2,600 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15, with £664 costs awarded to Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority.
The three member bench of the Brecon Magistrates’ Court took into consideration an early admission of guilt and imposed the fine on Wyro Developments Ltd, based in Welshpool, who claimed that they felled the trees in anticipation of a planning application that has been submitted to the National Park Authority.
The National Park Authority received information on 4th September 2008 that felling had taken place on a parcel of land located near Station Road car park, Talgarth which is in a conservation area. The National Park Authority’s enforcement team carried out an immediate investigation into the felling, which resulted in a summons being served on Wyro Developments Ltd, who had carried out the work.
Anyone planning on starting work to trees within a conservation area, is required to contact the National Park Authority as the local planning authority – in this case no such application had been made.
If Wyro Developments Ltd had given prior notification the National Park Authority would have had the opportunity to either negotiate reasonable works or impose a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to protect the cherry trees. Such orders are served by the Park Authority if they feel the trees have a significant value to the community and surrounding area and are at risk of being felled or damaged.
Wyro Developments Ltd has submitted a planning application for the development of 14 new build houses at the site – the application is scheduled to be determined at the next PAROW meeting on Tuesday 22nd December. The Authority is now working to ensure that the trees are replanted as soon as possible.
Cllr William Powell, Powys County Councillour for Talgarth and a Member for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority said: “I am very pleased with last week’s successful prosecution. Many people in Talgarth loved these trees and are sorry to see them gone. This action shows that the National Park Authority is committed to tackling people who ignore the need for planning consent and make unauthorised development work. The National Park Authority seeks to protect the environment in a number of ways; Tree Preservation Orders are an important one of them. Our legal team and enforcement officers have worked very hard to get to this stage, and I hope that the public has renewed faith in how the National Park deals with developers who breach planning laws.”
Local resident, Stephen Groves, who reported the incident said: “Many trees in conservation areas may not have the benefit of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) but they are protected by the conservation area status, so I’m pleased that the National Park Authority has followed this case through to a successful prosecution. I understand that the maximum fine for an offence of this nature is around £20,000 and I hope that this deters other developers from committing these crimes in order to gain commercial benefit. Hopefully, this parcel of land will be reinstated to its former glory for the benefit of the residents of Talgarth.”
Tony James, concerned resident and Co-ordinator of the Neighbourhood Watch programme said: “I think the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority has shown a great interest in the preservation of Talgarth and I would like to congratulate them for pursuing this matter to a successful conclusion. The fact that they have followed this issue to the end is welcomed by all the local residents of High Street and Talgarth and it goes to show that the trees in our conservation areas are afforded the protection they deserve.”