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Nightmare neighbour who was fined £68k after he was grassed up for chopping down trees on his land loses his appeal

A NIGHTMARE neighbour fined £68,000 after being grassed up for chopping down trees on his land has lost an appeal to overturn the ruling.

James Barney began felling woodland despite two failed attempts to get planning permission for two holiday lets on a plot he had just snapped up.

James Barney began felling woodland despite two failed attempts to get planning permission in Durley, Hampshire
James Barney was ordered to cough up £68,031 in fines and legal costs back in September, he appealed the fine but it was thrown out

But as work began at the site in Durley, Hampshire, the property developer was pounced on by neighbours angry at the racket he was making.

And councillors later told him the 100-year-old oak trees he was ripping out the ground had Tree Protection Orders (TPO) on them.

Barney was ordered to cough up £68,031 in fines and legal costs back in September, he appealed the fine but it was thrown out.

But just weeks later the 35-year-old was dragged back to Southampton Magistrates Court and slapped with a further £1,000 fine for felling trees without a licence.

Barney, from Bursledon, Hampshire, admitted destroying between ten and 20 trees in March 2020.

The felling occurred weeks before he submitted a planning application on land he had bought for £27,500.

He told District Judge Peter Greenfield he was unaware of a TPO on the trees in Scoreys Copse, Horton Heath.

But the judge accused Barney – who lives in his parents’ £2.3million home – attempted the work “clearly for a profit”.



In September the 35-year-old was prosecuted under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990, pleading guilty to breaching tree preservation regulations.

He was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay the £17,841 legal costs of Eastleigh Borough Council and a £190 victim surcharge – bringing the total to £68,031.

He was also handed a tree replacement notice by Eastleigh Borough Council – forcing him to plant 650 new trees to replace the ones he tore out.

Following an appeal the payment period for the fine has been extended to six months.

If he is unable to cough up the cash in this time he will serve a 12-month prison sentence.

Barney, from Bursledon, Hampshire, admitted destroying between ten and 20 trees in March 2020
Councillors later told him the 100-year-old oak trees he was ripping out the ground had Tree Protection Orders (TPO) on them
The felling occurred weeks before he submitted a planning application on land he had bought for £27,500

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