How a ‘major cock-up’ led to the felling of protected trees and £420k in fines

“I’d hate the [Tree Preservation Order] system to go, but it is currently not fit for purpose,” says the Woodland Trust’s Oliver Newham. Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are a conservation measure dating back to 1947 which have recently come under rare scrutiny after a housing developer and contractor were fined a combined total of £420,000 for a significant breach in Penllergare Valley Woods, north of Swansea, in South Wales.

Though nobody knows for sure, the fine may be the highest for a TPO breach ever handed out in Wales. It was for the illegal removal of 73 trees, including a 176-year-old giant redwood planted back in 1842. The total value of the trees lost was estimated at nearly £140,000. 

Despite the failure of the TPOs to protect the trees, Swansea Council argues that the blame lies with the developer, Enzo’s Homes, which was aware they were in place. “TPOs generally work well, but there are thousands of protected trees in Swansea... it is impossible to monitor all TPO trees all of the time,” a spokesperson says.

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