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Pruning twigs leads to £20k fine threat

Walsall | News | Published:

When the Highways Agency chopped down dozens of trees shielding his home from the busy M6 last year, pensioner Bryan Wiseman had to simply put up with it.

When the Highways Agency chopped down dozens of trees shielding his home from the busy M6 last year, pensioner Bryan Wiseman had to simply put up with it.

But after pruning a couple of branches from a hawthorn tree overhanging his garden in Woodside Way, Short Heath, the 70-year-old has been stunned by the threat of a court fine of up to £20,000.

The letter from Walsall Council is even harder to swallow for Mr Wiseman, as he has spent years tending to Rough Wood at the back of his home as a member of a committee looking after the beauty spot.

The retired engineer is accused of removing the branches of a tree protected by a tree preservation order without proper permission. A letter from regeneration officer Cameron

Gibson said no more action would be taken in this instance, but warned the grandfather-of-two officers would be keeping an eye on him in the future, adding: "The council will periodically visit the site to monitor the situation and you are advised that no further pruning or felling works should be undertaken."

Mr Wiseman said: "I am not trying to destroy the thing, I want to get it to branch out a bit and thicken the bush up. We are talking about three-quarters of an inch diameter twigs, I took them off with secateurs, it was a very minor operation.

"The Highways Agency took down trees that were 40 years old it's double standards."

Mr Wiseman and his wife Noreen were shocked when workers began felling more than 100 yards of trees at the back of their home last February.

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The trees had been the only buffer between them and the noise and fumes from the motorway

It has sparked fury among residents on the Beechdale Estate and Short Heath who say they have been left more exposed to the constant racket of the M6 yards from their homes.

Simon Tranter, head of regeneration, development and delivery for Walsall Council, said: "Trees covered by tree preservation orders cannot be pruned or felled without the council's permission.

"In this case no permission was sought and a letter advising the resident of the correct procedure was sent to him. It clearly states no action will be taken against him but does outline the possible penalties available to us if a tree preservation order is breached which can include a fine of up to £20,000 if convicted by a magistrates court."

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