A MARRIED couple from Malvern Link have been ordered to pay £1,200 in fines and costs after allowing two trees to be cut down illegally.

Brian Hall, aged 64, and Julia Hall, 58, pleaded guilty to breaching the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 by allowing the felling of two horse chestnut trees at their home in Worcester Road.

At a hearing at Worcester Magistrates’ Court, they were fined £100 each and told to pay £500 each in costs, totalling £1,200 between them.

The tree surgeon who carried out the work, Ross Loader, aged 48, of California Lane, Welland, had previously pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. He was fined £200 and ordered to pay £500 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Malvern Hills District Council decided to take action against the trio after being told illegal tree work was taking place at the property in Worcester Road, which is within the Malvern Link Conservation Area.

Officers from the planning department visited the site in November last year and discovered the two trees had been cut down.

By law, all trees in a conservation area with a stem diameter of 7.5cm or more are legally protected. Anyone wanting to carry out any work to a protected tree must give the council six weeks' notice in writing of what they intend to do. A decision will then be made on whether or not the proposed works are acceptable.

However, in this case no notice was given before the trees were felled.

Cllr Melanie Baker, the council's portfolio holder for sustainable development and infrastructure, said: “This case highlights the importance of those living in conservation areas knowing the laws and restrictions on what they can and cannot do. If anyone is unsure then I would urge them to check with the council before they start work.”

Anyone wanting more information or help about legally-protected trees should contact the council’s landscape officer Chris Lewis-Farley on 01684 862407.