A dog owner illegally chopped down three apple trees in his back garden because he said the fallen fruit was making his pet sick and attracting wasps.
Ismail Elmagdoub “acted without throught” when he called in a contractor to remove the trees that were part of an historic orchard dating back to more than 120 years and protected by a conservation area in his Cotswold village.
He said he took the action because the fallen apples were being eaten by his dog, causing the animal to become unwell. The fruit, he added, was attracting wasps which were causing an issue for his family.
Elmagdoub, 39, of Bath Orchard in the village of Blockley, near Moreton-in-Marsh, was ordered to pay almost £9,000 after pleading guilty to having the trees removed without giving the local council prior notice, as required by law.
The case came as figures published by the National Trust showed a huge decline in orchards across England and Wales. The body said the amount of land used for apple and pear trees has halved since the early 1900s.
Cheltenham Magistrates Court heard how Elmagdoub called on a contractor to fell the “healthy” trees at his house, bought for £1.25m in 2020, in March this year.
Despite a witness telling the contractor that the trees were in the Brockley Conservation area, the concerns were dismissed by both the workers and Elmagdoub, and the work was completed, a council spokesperson said.
Cotswold District Council’s tree officer said historic mapping indicated the site to have been an orchard from at least 1891.
Elmagdoub apologised for the felling of the trees and said he was keen to work with the tree officer going forward, the district council said.
Speaking to the Mail Online after the court case, he claimed to not realise his garden fence was the boundary of the conservation area. “I’ve never been in trouble with the law before and it wasn’t a pleasant experience,” he said.
He was fined £4,224 and ordered to pay £2,970 in costs plus a victim surchage of £1,690.
Robert Weaver, chief executive of the council, said: “Preserving our natural heritage is a shared responsibility, and we encourage residents to engage with us to ensure sustainable decision-making.
“The outcome of this case underscores the importance of engaging with the council to ensure we protect and enhance our shared environment for future generations.”