'Foolish' - Landowner could face prosecution after drilling into trees

Broad View Road, in Oulton Broad.

Broad View Road, in Oulton Broad. - Credit: Google Maps

A landowner who admitted drilling holes in a tree and filling them with fungal pellets as part of a bid to rebuild a house could face criminal prosecution.

The Broads Authority's planning committee is set to meet on Friday, March 5, where members will decide whether to prosecute the landowner for wilfully damaging the tree in the Oulton Broad conservation area.

A planning application was submitted to the Broads Authority in November 2020 for the replacement of a house on Broad View Road, which is uninhabitable due to water damage, as well as a new development on an adjoining plot and removal of the mature beech tree.

However, a revised application was submitted the following month after an objection was raised by the authority's arboricultural consultant.

In January, the consultant visited the site and concluded the tree was in good condition, despite the discovery of three holes in the trunk which had been filled with fungal pellets and plugged with twigs.

A full survey of the tree was made days later, where a total of 15 holes were discovered, with five having mushrooms growing inside, although not all holes had pellets inside, with a provisional Tree Protection Order (TPO) served following the visit.

A report prepared ahead of the meeting, which recommends authorising prosecution proceedings, states the landowner confirmed carrying out the work in early 2020.

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He said: "I take full responsibility for my actions starting early last year before the first lockdown and ending with the removal of the plugs in that summer as I reflected to correct the situation.

"My actions were foolish and ill-considered at the time and I apologise for it.

"I have no excuse by my actions in addressing a conundrum."

He added his intention was to create a clear view between the two developments.

Legally, the local planning authority must be given six weeks' notice before work on trees within a conservation area.

The Oulton Broad Conservation Area appraisal states: "Mature trees within the gardens and on the roadsides make a positive contribution to the character of Broad View Road."