Damaging SSSI costs millionaire £907k
- Ecosystems ,
- Biodiversity ,
The owner of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill has been ordered to pay more than £900,000 in fines and costs after admitting that protected woodland was felled on his land
Philip Day pleaded guilty to two offences of damaging the Gelt Woods site of special scientific interest (SSSI) in Cumbria during work in November 2010 to build an access track on his estate near Brampton.
According to Natural England, which brought the prosecution, the unauthorised work resulted in trees being felled and land being excavated that “severely” damaged plantlife in the ancient woodland.
Judge Peter Hughes fined Day £450,000 and ordered him to pay costs of £457,000 saying that the businessman, whose personal fortune is estimated at £3 million, had been “grossly negligent” in relation to the works on his land.
In passing sentence, the judge also criticised Day’s defence team for trying to use “the power of his wealth” to avoid taking responsibility for the harm caused to the site.
Day has confirmed he will appeal the sentence, arguing that it is “nine times the amount imposed for similar offences”.
According to his spokesperson, Day was “shocked” when he found out of the damage caused to the woodland by contractors and that a full restoration project had since been completed at the site.
While welcoming Day’s voluntary actions to restore the SSSI, Natural England’s regulation director, Janette Ward, said: “We hope that he will now work with us to manage this special area more appropriately in the future.
“Legal action is always regrettable, and we were disappointed that a woodland of such ecological importance, and one that was very special to the local community, was so severely damaged.”
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