Village centre manager "should have known iconic trees were protected"

The manager of the centre of New Ash Green, a modern Kent village, has been ordered to pay £8,770 for illegally cutting down protected ash trees that gave the village its name.

Image: David Kemp (CC BY SA 20)
Image: David Kemp (CC BY SA 20)

Yusuf Jassat pleaded guilty to the charge of causing or permitting the felling of three trees that were covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Friday 12 January.

The mature trees stood within a shopping area, and were believed to have been felled last February by Jassat, a director of Richmond Lodge Management which manages New Ash Green centre on behalf of owner Piperton Finance.

He had arranged for a contractor to carry out the work as he had concerns about insurance claims by people being injured as a result of uneven paving around the roots of the trees.

Jassat denied any knowledge of the TPO despite being in possession of material which clearly identified the protected trees. He also failed to check with the Council if the trees were protected.

The court took into account that Jassat had pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, but considered his actions were deliberate and he knew or should have known that the trees were protected.

He was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay the Council £3,600 in costs plus the compulsory £170 Victim Surcharge Levy, and has agreed to replace the trees.

The council’s cabinet member for planning Cllr Robert Piper said: "These trees were central to the village and a key feature of the shopping centre. These actions will have caused considerable upset to many people living in New Ash Green."

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