A HAMPSHIRE landowner fined £50,000 for illegally felling scores of trees has now been prosecuted for a similar offence on another piece of land.

Property developer James Barney destroyed an area of woodland just weeks before submitting a planning application to build holiday lets on the site at Durley Brook Road, Durley.

Barney, 35, of High Street, Old Bursledon, was sentenced at Southampton Magistrates' Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to felling timber without a licence.

It comes just weeks after he was prosecuted at the same court for committing an unrelated offence at Horton Heath in April last year.

Daily Echo: Cllr Nicholas Couldrey, Cllr Rupert Kyrle and Cllr Michelle Marsh at Scorey's Cope. Picture: Michelle MarshCllr Nicholas Couldrey, Cllr Rupert Kyrle and Cllr Michelle Marsh at Scorey's Cope. Picture: Michelle Marsh (Image: Cllr Michelle Marsh)

Last month Barney was told to pay £65,000 in fines and costs after tearing down 53 protected oak trees at Scorey's Copse, also to make way for proposed holiday lets.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the trees were destroyed despite the protests of councillors and residents.

Barney was fined £50,000 after pleading guilty to breaching tree preservation regulations. He was also told to pay the £17,841 legal costs incurred by Eastleigh Borough Council.

READ MORE: Property developer fined £50k for destroying 53 protected oak trees

The Durley offence was committed in March 2020 and involved land Barney had bought for £27,500.

He destroyed between ten and 20 trees, sparking an investigation by Forestry England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the court heard.

Daily Echo: The trees that were chopped down at Scorey's Copse.The trees that were chopped down at Scorey's Copse. (Image: Newsquest.)

Alistair Haggerty, prosecuting, said the trees were chopped down just weeks before Barney submitted an application to build holiday lets on the site.

Mr Haggerty said the defendant declined to attend an interview under caution but submitted a statement saying the trees were removed because they were in a dangerous condition.

He added: "A number of people made complaints about the trees being felled. The woodland cannot be easily or quickly replaced."

Mr Haggerty said the holiday lets scheme was rejected by Winchester City Council and a second attempt to gain consent was also turned down.

Daily Echo: Barney was prosecuted at Southampton Magistrates CourtBarney was prosecuted at Southampton Magistrates Court (Image: Daily Echo)

John Fitzsimmons, mitigating, said Barney had sought advice and was told at least four of the trees were exempt from the felling rules because they were dangerous. He added that the defendant did not benefit financially because his applications to build holiday lets were refused.

But District Judge Peter Greenfield said the work was carried out "clearly for a profit".

Barney was fined £1,000, with £300 costs, and was told to pay a victim services surcharge of £100.

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