A WORCESTERSHIRE contracting business has been fined £12,000 for damaging protected trees in Malvern Wells.

Droitwich magistrates heard how Pencroft Ltd sliced through the roots of 12 lime trees while carrying out work at Kings Road on Wednesday, April 4.

The damage happened when a mechanical digger was used to put up fencing.

The company admitted wilful damage to the roots of a protected tree. But Tim Sherwood, defending, said it had not been aware the trees were protected, as it had not been involved in initial consultations about the work.

He said the incident was the first offence for the company, which had been in business 25 years.

Magistrates, who agreed the company's previous record was excellent, said they understood Pencroft had not been aware the trees were protected.

The firm, based in Old Road, Clifton-on-Teme, was ordered to pay £1,000 for each offence, with £790 costs.

Mike Gregory, Malvern Hills District Council's landscaping officer, said he was inspecting the trees regularly to see if the root damage was having an effect on them.

He said pruning is likely to be carried out to alleviate the effects of the damage.