Three Rivers District Council reacted quickly to the destruction of an area of woodland near Abbots Langley, following complaints about unauthorised tree felling.
Council officers visited a parcel of 1.2 hectares of protected woodland in Langleybury, adjacent to an established traveller site on Old House Lane, and were shocked to find that the woodland had been almost completely cleared.
Unfortunately, the complaint was received after the majority of trees had already been felled without permission.
Nevertheless, officers reacted quickly and despite numerous problems arising from the current COVID-19 emergency, obtained an injunction from the High Court, preventing development of the land.
The Injunction prevents a number of works including the felling of any other trees, laying of hardstanding and the stationing of caravans on the land.
An injunction is the most powerful tool which can be used by the Council at the current time.
The Council will be required to return to the High Court to seek a continuance of the Order.
The Council has liaised with the Forestry Commission who will be visiting when practicable given the current circumstances.
It is highly likely that a felling licence would have been required from the Forestry Commission for the unauthorised tree works.
The Council in conjunction with the Forestry Commission both aim to restore the land to woodland via the most appropriate method of enforcement action.
Cllr Sara Bedford, Leader of the Council, said: “This is a significant and reckless breach of planning and tree protection. There has been a significant uproar across the district about the removal of this woodland which was removed without permission from the Council.
“The injunction is the first step to ensure that no further development takes place on the land. Efforts are underway to ensure the woodland is restored in due course. Despite the current ‘pandemic situation, the Council is still taking these matters seriously, operating its planning service and enforcement visits are being undertaken where considered a priority.”