Published: Monday, 15th January 2018
The manager of the New Ash Green village centre has been ordered to pay £8,770 for illegally cutting down protected ash trees that gave the village its name.
Sixty-six year old Mr 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 2018.
The iconic trees were located in the heart of the shopping centre and were some of the ‘Ashes’ from which the village took its name. They were believed to have been felled on 17 February 2017.
Mr Jassat is a director of Richmond Lodge Management Ltd, the company that manages New Ash Green centre on behalf of the owners, 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. Mr 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 Mr 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.
Mr Jassat was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay the Council £3,600 in costs plus the compulsory £170 Victim Surcharge Levy. Mr Jassat has agreed to replace the trees.
Cllr Robert Piper, Sevenoaks District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, says: “These were not just trees in a wood, 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.
“I would urge anyone considering carrying out work to trees to contact us before they begin work to check if they are protected.”