Developer fined £15k after destroying hedgerow at new housing estate
A developer has been fined £15,000 after a hedgerow was unlawfully removed next to a new housing estate in Haverhill.
Persimmon Homes PLC was also ordered to pay £902 in costs and a victim surcharge of £181 following a ruling at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Monday.
The firm admitted a charge of causing or permitting another person to carry out the removal of the hedgerow on Ann Suckling Lane on March 8 last year, breaching regulation 5 (1) of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997.
The housing development had been given planning permission with conditions covering tree and hedge protection.
West Suffolk Council brought the case against the developer and afterwards said the result sent out a clear warning.
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Andy Drummond, responsible for planning and regulation at the council, said: "We are very pleased with the result of this court case.
"The substantial fine and the award of costs reflect the ecological damage inflicted and should send a clear warning to developers and builders that they cannot simply do what suits them.
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"The planning conditions and regulations on hedgerows are there for a good reason, to protect hedges from damage or destruction.
He added: "We take these matters seriously and as this case proves, we don't hesitate to prosecute."
In her evidence, the council's trees and landscape officer described the "level of destruction" of the hedge as being "alarming". Describing the hedge as being "important and ancient and/or species rich", she went on to say that "the hedgerow had been destroyed by removal and the work undertaken went far beyond any management or hedgerow maintenance that might otherwise be acceptable and in conformity with the hedgerow regulations".
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Suffolk said: "We acknowledge that the removal of this hedgerow was done in error and fully accept the court's decision.
"We apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience caused in this matter."