A ‘greedy’ homeowner who poisoned a protected tree which blocked light from his £900,000 home was today slammed by neighbours who said it was his fault it came crashing down in Storm Arwen, putting lives at risk.
Robert Page killed the Monterey tree in Dorset, causing it to collapse overnight amid fierce winds.
The car landed in a row of garages and left the owners with an estimated bill of thousands.
It was a good thing that nobody was there to witness it in the middle night. Many locals were afraid passersby might have been seriously hurt or killed if they weren’t.
Page’s 71-year-old neighbors have criticised his actions, which, according to them, eventually caused the tree of 65 feet height to collapse.
Retired chartered accountant, he was found guilty on last week for violating a Tree Preservation Order which had been placed upon the 65-year old specimen. The sentence will be delivered later in this month.
Slidey graph shows the state of the tree in 2012. It was in its full health in 2012. And it is in 2019 after being sabotaged.
Robert Page, an accountant and retired chartered professional, was last week found guilty for violating a Tree Preservation Order on the 65-year old specimen. The sentence will be delivered later this month.
The court heard he had wanted rid of it as it had scuppered a property deal he stood to make £100,000 from. The tree had also cast a shadow over his £900,000 home near to Poole Harbour, Dorset.
Page planned to kill it in 2016, after his local council refused to grant him a permit.
Drill holes were made in the trunk to insert a poisonous herbicide, and concrete was placed around its base to prevent it from breathing.
Richard Smith lives near Sandbanks on the same road with Page. He claimed Page had done criminal damage to his garage block.
He stated that although property prices in the area are high, what is the cost of a person’s life?
“That tree may have endangered someone’s lives when it fell on them and caused crime, so he must be held responsible. He cut down the tree, then the storm came along and blow it over.
One neighbor said that the tree could have been fatal to someone when it fell. He should be held responsible. It’s worse because of the financial motive. This was an extremely stupid decision.
David Kelsey is the chairman of the planning committee at BCP Council. He said Page’s “sheer greed” had made his neighbors suffer.
He stated that he should be responsible for any damage done to neighboring garages. Why should their insurance companies or them pay?
“Nobody should be made to suffer by his greed or selfishness. He should be sued.
“I wish the judge would hit him with a huge fine, maybe even jail sentences to convey a clear message. £100,000 is the amount he’d have made on his property so that’s what he should pay back.
A tree being cut down isn’t a good way to improve the home’s worth. It is absurd to think that someone can be so confident they are able to get around planning regulations.
Pictures show the tree which collapsed onto garages behind Page’s £900,000 home following the storm
Robert Page destroyed a pine tree in Dorset, and the dying and unstable one came to an abrupt halt during Storm Arwen. This storm erupted overnight from November 26 through 27.
Page was defended by some neighbors who instead blamed Page and the council for failing to remove the dangerous and dead tree earlier.
Richard Cole who owns the garages and blocks where the tree fell said that he was the one to have told officials at the town hall three years ago.
Mr Cole, 78, said it cost £2,000 to remove the tree after it fell.
He explained that while he had long been worried about the tree’s leaning towards his garages, he noticed two large branches just above it.
‘The council refused to take it down repeatedly. It hasn’t been there for years.
“In May, they wrote me and I said that I was extremely worried about safety because the tree had begun to shed its branches. It is imperative that we do not allow anyone to be hurt.
“In June I mentioned again to them that branches were being lowered.
“In October, they apologized for the delay in removing the tree and stated that it could be done.
“But it was swept over by Storm Arwen. Around 6am, I woke up to a loud and powerful crack. It was visible from the garages, so we got up and went to bed.
“It might have killed someone – that was what I worried about. If the accident happened later on, it might have occurred to someone walking under it.
We wouldn’t have found ourselves in this mess without the help of the planning team.
Asking him his opinion on the actions of Mr Page, he replied: “He’s a great friend. It’s not my job to make comments.”
BCP Council spokesmen said, “A few rejected planning applications and a request for tree works for the removal were already submitted by the landowner prior the tree’s destruction.”
“Communications that suggested it was in decline raised suspicions. We quickly began a criminal investigation after we learned that the tree was rapidly in decline. This included several site visits to find the root cause.
“It became clear that many attempts were made to remove the tree.
“The evidence we gathered from our teams enabled us to present a strong case before the Crown Court. We are happy that it is now over and the prosecution has been successful against the landowner.”
Residents’ demands to remove the tree sooner were ignored by the council, which refused to answer.