Midlothian crime: 'Wilful destruction of trees’ in Eskbank leads to criminal report

Midlothian councillors refer matter to the Crown Office
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The owners of land where two healthy trees were chopped down could face criminal action after Midlothian councillors agreed to refer the incident to the Crown Office.

A meeting of the council’s planning committee this week heard that the trees, which lay in the Eskbank conservation area, were removed without planning permission and a notice demanding the names of those behind the work was ignored.

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The council’s planning boss Peter Arnsdorf asked councillors to back his recommendation that the case was referred to the procurator fiscal service to prosecute.

The felled trees were on land off Newbattle Road, in a conservation area.The felled trees were on land off Newbattle Road, in a conservation area.
The felled trees were on land off Newbattle Road, in a conservation area.

He told councillors: “Two trees – an elm and an ash tree – have been felled on the site without consent which is required because the site is within Eskbank and Ironmills conservation area.”

He added that the people on the site were issued with a planning contravention notice requiring them to provide the names of those involved in the work on the site and had not responded, which is a planning offence.

Councillor David Virgo moved the recommendations supported by council leader Councillor Kelly Parry. Councillor Parry said: “I think it is disgusting that someone has come along and cut down these trees.”

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Councillor Peter Smaill said: “This has caused a huge amount of upset at the community council so I am entirely behind officers on this matter.”

The council was alerted to engineering work which was being carried out on the site in September when it was discovered the tree had been felled.

A report to committee said workers on the site, which is described as adjacent to The Old Golf House, off Newbattle Road, were ordered to stop what they were doing but refused and formal cease notices were served the following day bringing work to a halt.

A member of Eskbank and Newbattle Community Forum posted a picture of a sign at the site at the time which stated “LAND FOR SALE – Freehold – Potential travellers yard”.

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