SUPERMARKET chain Lidl has been fined after illegally cutting back a protected tree at its Oxford Road store last year.
Reading Borough Council prosecuted Lidl after discovering it had carried out unauthorised crown reduction work in September 2016 on a protected Plane tree positioned on the Oxford Road frontage to the site.
The breach was spotted by a Council planning officer on her walk to work.
At a Reading Magistrates Court hearing last week (Thursday November 23), Lidl pleaded guilty to the causing or permitting the unauthorised works to the protected tree.
Lidl was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay Reading Borough Council costs of £1,200 and a victim surcharge of £150. Contractor Greg Whitelaw, hired by Lidl’s contracted Facilities Management Company SGC, was fined £500, ordered to pay the Council £400 costs and pay a victim surcharge of £50.
Reading Magistrates Court heard that on June 30th 2016, Lidl was refused planning permission to replace an unauthorised sign positioned next to the protected Plane tree which, along with other trees on the site, had a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on it. One of the reasons for refusal was that the protected tree would have to be maintained at a smaller size due to its proximity to the sign, which would have reduced its contribution to the Oxford Road street scene. The planning decision was upheld in a subsequent appeal against the refusal of consent for the sign.
Lidl denied any link between the planning refusal and the unauthorised tree work at the Magistrates Court hearing last week.
The TPO breach was spotted by the same Council officer who dealt with the original planning application in 2016.
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Tree Preservation Orders are put in place by the Council to offer a level of protection which help preserve trees for future years. The Council will not hesitate to take action against any developer or land owner who ignores a TPO.
“I’d also like to congratulate the sharp-eyed Council planning officer who spotted the breach on her walk to work.”