Director Fiorenzo Sauro (pictured outside Swansea Magistrates’ Court today), 49, paid for the chopping down of 70 protected trees including one of Britain’s first ever giant redwoods
A property developer has been fined £300,000 today for ordering a 176-year-old giant redwood to be cut down for new homes.
Director Fiorenzo Sauro, 49, paid for the chopping down of 70 protected trees including one of Britain’s first ever giant redwoods.
The tree contractor who carried out the illegal felling was fined another £120,000 for the destruction in the ancient woodlands.
A court heard the towering 90ft tree was estimated to be worth more than £66,000 but, in reality, it was ‘irreplaceable’.
Sauro said the felling was an accident, but a judge ruled he ‘deliberately’ ordered it to be chopped down to make way for 80 new homes.
Sauro and his company, Enzo Homes Ltd, were ordered to stump up a fine totalling £300,000 by a district judge in Swansea, South Wales.
Enzo Homes were fined £120,000 while Sauro was fined £180,000.
Annabel Graham-Paul, prosecuting, said: ‘This was an intentional breach or flagrant disregard for the law.
‘The trees felled are irreplaceable natural resources. The soils in the ancient woodland can never be replicated.
‘Swansea Council aim to replace the trees within two years but the ancient woodlands are irreplaceable and the redwood is going to take a long time to grow back to its former glory so it is by no means going to be a like for like replacement.’
A court heard the towering 90ft tree was estimated to be worth more than £66,000 but, in reality, it was ‘irreplaceable’
Swansea Magistrate’s Court heard Sauro made ‘no financial gain’ from felling the trees and is involved with the council’s plans to replant what was cut down.
Alex Goodman, representing Sauro said: ‘Sauro has sourced replacement trees at his own expense which are being carefully nurtured in a nursery.
‘This reflects Sauro’s remorse and regret for what happened.’
District judge Neale Thomas said: ‘I find it difficult to equate the harm to a monetary value. The harm is much greater.
‘It is inconceivable on this evidence the felling of this tree and the ancient woodland was done in any other way than deliberately.
‘There would have been discussions about how it was to be done, permission obtained to remove the fence and any other preparatory work.’
‘Mr Sauro caused the destruction of these trees in the most obvious way: namely by directing they should be felled.
‘This is a deliberate planned breach of the tree preservation order and in defiance of it’.
Sauro and his company, Enzo Homes Ltd, were ordered to stump up a fine totalling £300,000 by a district judge in Swansea, South Wales. Pictured: The giant redwood
Sauro and his firm, Enzo Homes Ltd, were found guilty of contravening a tree preservation order.
Both the company and its director were also ordered to contribute a total of £15,000 towards the prosecution costs.
A court heard the firm were developing 80 houses at the site in Penllergaer Estate, Swansea, when the trees were chopped.
Self-employed contractor Arwyn Morgan, 50, felled the 90ft tree dating back to 1842 to make way for new houses.
Morgan previously pleaded guilty to contravening a tree preservation order at Swansea magistrates.
The father-of-three was fined £120,000 and ordered to contribute £2,000 toward the prosecution costs.
The magnificent high tree was planted in 1842 – around 10 years before redwood seeds are credited with being brought to Britain from America.
It was planted by keen botanist John Dillwyn Llewelyn who imported trees from all over the world.
Swansea council received an anonymous phonecall in November last year saying trees had been felled.
Council tree officer Alan Webster visited the site and spotted the redwood was gone – along with other protected trees.
Mr Webster said the tree was worth around £250,000 – but was ‘irreplaceable’.
He added: ‘This is ancient woodland dating back hundreds of years. It is important.
‘You couldn’t replant a tree of this size but this is used to extrapolate a valuation.’
Mark Thomas, cabinet member at Swansea Council, says the decision should be a ‘warning to others.’
He said: ‘In our view this was never a victimless crime.
‘The felled tree was part of the heritage of this area of Swansea and one of the first of its kind to be planted in the city.
‘The decision to prosecute was not taken lightly and the convictions should serve as a warning to others.’