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£2,500 fine for felling trees

A farmer who admitted illegally chopping down 2,000 trees has been fined £2,500.

Kerry McKenzie cleared a large wooded area at Drumligair Farm, Newmachar (apparently a village near Aberdeen), on February 2 2015 without having planning permission or a felling licence.

And he was only caught out by Forestry Commission officers after someone tipped them off.

Yesterday, McKenzie appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court for sentence, having admitted illegally cutting down the 15-year-old trees.

The court previously heard McKenzie, who runs a butcher’s shop in Aberdeen, had been attempting to clear the land to make way for a solar farm.

He claimed the trees he chopped down were not worth anything, but the Crown had brought the prosecution on the basis that the Forestry Commission had valued them at about £11,000.

This would have meant McKenzie could have been fined more than £20,000 for the illegal felling – the maximum punishment being twice the value of the timber from the trees.

However, following a proof in mitigation yesterday Sheriff Alison Stirling ruled that the value of firewood which would have been produced from the trees would have been about £1,892.98.

She said she considered the matter to be “very serious” and that only a substantial fine would be an appropriate punishment.

She added she was setting the bar high in order to make an example of him so that members of the public knew that sort of behaviour would not be tolerated.

The court heard his farm and butcher’s shop had not been making any money and that he was supporting himself by working offshore.

The court also heard the 44-year-old had previously used the area to graze his cattle before he was banned from keeping livestock.

In March this year McKenzie admitted six separate offences relating to the poor treatment of animals.

Aberdeenshire Council, which raised the prosecution, said he had created a risk of disease to both livestock and humans.

The offences were committed at Greenhead and Old Wood farms at Drumligair and Meadowhead at Dyce between February and March last year.

He admitted failing to feed and care for vulnerable animals, poor disease control, and indiscriminate breeding of livestock at the Aberdeenshire farms.

He also admitted confining cows to buildings without proper drainage and bedding, exposing them to hazardous and sharp objects.

McKenzie, of 3 Corsehill View, Parkhill, Dyce, Aberdeen, admitted similar offences in May 2013.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/?s=farmer%20fined%202500%20for%20illegally%20cutting%20down

 
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