Bromley Council issues replanting order after 131 trees were illegally felled
A Beckenham landowner, who was arrested after felling 131 protected trees, has been ordered to replant them all, Bromley council has said.
The trees, predominantly self-seeded oaks, were chopped down on June 10 on a piece of land adjoining Cator Park, despite the trees being covered by a Tree Preservation Order from June 7, according to The Countryside Charity (CPRE).
Many of the trees felled were about 20-25 years old, well-established and playing an “important role in carbon capture and supporting the area’s biodiversity,” the charity said.
Bromley Council said although an investigation into the felling continued, the owner is being contacted about a duty to plant the same number of trees under part of the Town and Country Planning Act.
The council said in a statement: “The owner of the privately owned land is being contacted to make them aware that Section 206 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 places a duty on the owner of the land to plant the same number of new trees in such places as may be designated by the council as the local planning authority.”
Angela Page, executive councillor for public protection and enforcement, said: "Local residents are still quite rightly shocked and saddened at what took place on that fateful weekend when the protected trees were felled."
"We are considering all the legal measures we have at our disposal and the requirement for the landowner to replant oak trees on this much loved and precious site is part of that.
"We previously successfully sought an injunction which gives additional protections and our investigation into the felling of the trees is very much continuing."
An injunction that was granted earlier provides further legal protection for the privately owned land adjacent to Cator Park in Kings Hall Road, where the protected trees were growing before they were felled.
Anyone found guilty of felling trees that were identified by a Tree Preservation Order could face fines of up to £20,000 at a Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine at Crown Court, being the sentences, the council said.
The Met Police arrested a man in his 30s on June 10 on suspicion of criminal damage and later released him on bail.
Tree-cutting equipment, including chainsaws, were seized during the arrest, Scotland Yard said.
Cator Park has been regularly used by the public for at least 20 years, CPRE said, and is a haven for wildlife including bats, woodpeckers and owls.
The charity is now calling for the site of the Bromley “tree massacre” to become a woodland nature reserve.
CPRE London’s Director, Anna Taylor, said: ‘We are delighted a replanting order and injunction to prevent further harm to trees on this site have been served. It is vital the woodland lost is now restored whether by replanting or natural regeneration, or a combination of the two.”