A farmer with an axe to grind has been fined more than £100,000 – for chopping down 200 ancient beech trees in a revenge attack.
Keith Smith, 62, carried out a chainsaw massacre on the 200-year-old hedgerow beeches in protest at a new solar energy plant.
A court heard Smith had rented the farmland and woods in Blackwood, near Caerphilly, South Wales, and wanted to launch a business there.
But the land was bought up by an energy company to install solar panels to generate electricity – and Smith objected to the plans.
So Smith and his two sons took their chainsaws to the land to cut down the trees.
Muhammed Yaqub, prosecuting, said: ‘The land was being used to install solar panels and the company in fact wanted the trees in place as they provided the perfect screening for the panels.
‘Smith had applied to do something on the land and failed to get permission. When the solar company put their own plans in for the solar panels, he objected.
‘He wasn’t able to do what he wanted, and this was a revenge. His attitude was: ‘If I can’t have that land, no one else can.’
Smith, of Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, failed to turn up for the hearing at Newport Magistrates Court.
The court heard if the trees were to be sold as fire wood they would be worth around £52,500.
Smith was charged with illegal felling and fined £105,082 ordered to pay £6,945 in costs.
So the moral to this story is do your homework before cutting trees down! The local forestry commission are always a good point of call if your unsure!