Tuesday 19 February 2019

Two fined after trees cut down


Derrybawn House, Laragh, where timber was illegally axed down.
Derrybawn House, Laragh, where timber was illegally axed down.

A MAN AND WOMAN have been fined €3,500 each for allowing hundreds of trees to be cut down in a special area of conservation.

Marie Dowling of Derrybawn House, Laragh, Co. Wicklow, and Edward Keogh of Coolmoney, Donard, Co. Wicklow, both pleaded guilty at Bray District Court last Thursday to two breaches under the Forestry Act, relating to the cutting down and removal of trees from the Derrybawn estate in early 2010.

State Solicitor Rory Benville told Judge Murrough Connellan that a complaint had been received regarding timber being cut down at Derrybawn House. The 96-acre estate had been bought by a company called Moswatch Ltd in 2001 but that company has since been dissolved.

Dowling and her estranged husband had been named directors of that company.

Forestry Inspector Kevin Collins told the court that he had inspected the site on February 25 and again on March 2 2010 on foot of a complaint.

During the inspection, he observed 101 freshly cut stumps of oak and beech trees - the youngest of which was 80 years old - in an area that was an extension of the Glendalough natural oak woodland (Area A).

In another part of the estate (Area B) he counted 217 cut spruce and hemlock trees and said the area had effectively been cleared of trees.

Mr. Collins said that he spoke with a machinery operator before contacting Keogh by telephone. He also spoke to Dowling over the phone.

Mr. Benville told the court that Keogh was asked to carry out the work by Dowling after she said Wicklow County Council asked her to remove dangerous trees from the roadside.

The court heard that the cost of the roadside felling would have been between €6-7,000 and Dowling had engaged Keogh on the understanding that he could take away the fallen wood in lieu of payment.

Under questioning from Dowling's solicitor, Jacinta Enright, Mr. Collins said that Dowling had expressed shock that trees had been removed from Area A.

Ms. Enright told the court that Dowling's marriage had broken up in 2006 and that she is now a lone parent to three teenage children and reliant on Social Welfare for income. She said that her client had told Keogh that only the dangerous trees were to be removed and that no oak or beech trees were to be touched.

She added that her client was facing a number of proceedings in various courts in relation to default and that her circumstances were 'extremely bleak'.

Keogh's legal counsel told the court that her client, a 42-yearold father of five, was very apologetic for what had taken place and was ' holding his hands up completely'.

She said that Keogh had operated in the felling industry for approximately 16 years but didn't realise that Derrybawn was a conservation area. Pointing out that he could impose a fine of €63 per tree cut down, resulting in a total of over €20,000, Judge Connellan instead imposed fines of €2,500 and €1,000 on both Dowling and Keogh in relation to the two breaches.