Landowner behind ‘Bromley tree massacre’ told to replant all 131 felled trees

A Beckenham landowner who was arrested after felling 131 protected trees, in what was descibed as a “tree massacre”, has been ordered to replant them all by Bromley Council.

The trees, predominantly self-seeded oaks, were chopped down on June 10 on a privately-owned site adjoining Cator Park, despite the trees being covered by a Tree Preservation Order from June 7, according to The Countryside Charity (CPRE).

Many of the trees felled were about 20 to 25 years old, well-established and “playing an important role in carbon capture and supporting the area’s biodiversity”, the charity said.

On Friday Bromley Council said an investigation into the felling is ongoing, but the owner of the land is being notified that they must plant 131 oak trees on the site to replace the felled ones.

The council said in a statement: “The owner of the privately owned land is being contacted to make them aware that Section 206 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 places a duty on the owner of the land to plant the same number of new trees in such places as may be designated by the council as the local planning authority.”

Councillor Angela Page said: “Local residents are still quite rightly shocked and saddened at what took place on that fateful weekend when the protected trees were felled.

“We are considering all the legal measures we have at our disposal and the requirement for the landowner to replant oak trees on this much loved and precious site is part of that. We previously successfully sought an injunction which gives additional protections and our investigation into the felling of the trees is very much continuing.”

An injunction that was granted earlier provides further legal protection for the privately owned land adjacent to Cator Park in Kings Hall Road, where the protected trees were growing before they were felled.

Anyone found guilty of felling trees that were identified by a Tree Preservation Order could face fines of up to £20,000 at a Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine at Crown Court, being the sentences, the council said.

Metropolitan Police arrested a man in his 30s on June 10 on suspicion of criminal damage and later released him on bail.

The landowner told ITV News London he had been granted a lease to “create sports facilities for children of all ages as well as BAME groups and other disadvantaged groups” in Cator Park in Bromley.

Tree-cutting equipment, including chainsaws, were seized during the arrest Scotland Yard said.

The man told the broadcaster: “I’m a law-abiding citizen and had I known anything about the tree preservation order then I would not have cut down the trees.”

Cator Park has been regularly used by the public for at least 20 years, CPRE said, and is a haven for wildlife including bats, woodpeckers and owls.