An owner who enhanced the price of his property by illegally hacking branches off a tree has ordered to pay back the £21,000 added value.
A court has heard that businessman Samuel Wilson added a Juliet balcony to a bedroom in his home at Canford Cliffs in Dorset, but then discovered a 42 foot oak tree in his garden left the balcony shaded.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the tree was the subject of a tree preservation order and Wilson should have sought permission from the council to cut it back; but he did not and a neighbour reported his damage to the tree to the authority.
Wilson was fined £1,200 for the offence but then Poole council used the Proceeds of Crime Act to recoup the amount of money Wilson benefitted from his crime.
Council surveyors estimated the added value to the detached house was £21,750 to £30,000.
The Telegraph quotes Andy Dearing, enforcement team manager at Poole council, as telling the court: "We are not aware of any other case in the UK where there has been a Proceeds of Crime case based on the benefit of improved light to a property from the destruction of a tree.
"This whole case was about the sunlight to the back of Mr Wilson's property. What was the reason and motivation for climbing a 40ft oak tree to remove large limbs from it?
"The only logical conclusion was it was to create south west sunlight to the back garden and on to his Juliet balcony. In this case the maximum fine would have been £2,500. But the Proceeds of Crime Act took the matter to another level, because it looked at the benefit of that criminal activity and we said it was to gain an increase of between £21,000 to £30,000 in the value of his property.”
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