Builders have been threatened with prosecution if they fail to replant dozens of trees they tore down at a woodland site in Lenzie.
Scotland’s Forestry Commission issued the warning to Muir Homes after reading a report in the Herald a few weeks ago.
Over a three-day period, Muir felled 73 mature trees at the site at the junction of Initiative Road and Garngaber Road without permission.
If the builders fail to replant the area of woodland, they face a fine of up to £2,500.
The developers axed the trees despite being denied planning permission in November by East Dunbartonshire Council to build seven houses next to the Larkfield Centre.
The builders have lodged an appeal which is due to be heard next week.
In a letter to the company, the Forestry Commission’s woodland officerJulie Paton told them they were in breach of the Forestry Act 1967.
She added: “The Forestry takes a serious view of any offence against the felling licensing requirements of the Forestry Act.
“In addition, I would draw your attention to the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 as amended which greatly increased the maximum penalty under the Forestry Act for illegal felling to £2,500 or twice the value of the timber felled, whichever is the greater.
“We would request that the area of woodland that has been felled be replanted. This planing should be composedof 50 mixed broadleaf saplings to include alder, silver birch, hawthorn, willow and a suitable ash alternative species spaced evenly across the area of felling.”
The trees should be maintained for a period of at least 10 years.
Muir have also been warned if they carry out any future felling without consent, they face being reported to the procurator fiscal.
Protestor Alice May of Seven Sisters said: “We are extremely grateful to the Forestry Commission for standing up to the developers who removed seventy trees on a plot of land where they had been denied planning permission.
“We are still waiting for East Dunbartonshire Council’s planning department to explain why they didn’t ensure that the developers had the appropriate felling licences. We repeatedly drew their attention to the situation when there was still time to save the trees.”
When the Herald contacted East Dunbartonshire Council during the felling of the trees, planning chiefs said they were powerless to stop the felling.
Thomas Glen, Depute Chief Executive said at the time: “The council’s planning service has confirmed that the trees within the site are not subject to a Tree Preservation Order or within a conservation area, therefore the landowner does not require planning permission to cut them down.”
In an updated response today (Friday, April 7), Mr Glen said the council had requested the developer cease chopping the trees until the outcome of the appeal.
He said: “It is the developer’s responsibility to ensure they have all relevant permissions and rights to carry out works.
“Despite confirming that the trees within the site were not subject to a Tree Preservation Order or within a Conservation Area, the developer was
asked to cease works by Council officers until the outcome of a planning appeal. However, despite the Council’s request, the developer proceeded to
fell the trees.
“The felling of the trees did not require any permission from the Council so there were no powers available to us to stop it.
“The felling licence is a separate requirement administered by the Forestry Commission through its own legislation.
“Council officers were in regular contact with the Forestry Commission to assist them with their investigation and have been regularly visiting the
site to ensure that all protected trees are being retained”.
Despite repeated calls to Muir Construction, the Herald has been unable to obtain a comment from the company about the tree felling.