Two second-home owners have been fined after pleading guilty to cutting down five protected trees in a Salcombe conservation area.

Klaas Kalis and Penny Kalis, from Grub Street, Oxted, Surrey, pleaded guilty to contravening the provisions of a South Hams District Council Tree Preservation Order by allowing, permitting, or causing damage to be done to five trees in December 2017.

The Kalis’s pleaded guilty to the offences, which took place at a property known as Lorima, St Dunstan’s Road, and the court imposed a fine and victim surcharge of £1,540 on each defendant, plus awarded costs to the council of £670 each.

A third defendant, Steven Hawken, of Ace Plant Hire and Groundworks Ltd, St Jude’s, Plymouth, pleaded not guilty, and his case was adjourned until November 13.

Cllr Hilary Bastone, executive member for development management at SHDC, said: “I am pleased with the results of the prosecution. It’s very easy to check if a tree you own has a preservation order on it, or if you live in a conservation area.

“A TPO does not necessarily mean that work cannot be carried out to the tree; it means that you must seek the correct permissions and only carry out necessary works.

“South Hams District Council is committed to protecting trees in our area, and will prosecute those who flout the law.”

A TPO is made to protect a tree or trees with landscape and amenity value. It is illegal to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by a TPO.

In addition, all trees in conservation areas are considered to be protected and the same laws apply. A conservation area is an area which is considered to have special architectural or historic interest.

Salcombe has a large number of protected trees and residents can contact the council’s tree specialists at any time for advice or information.

SHDC said that while the trees in question have been damaged, natural regrowth will occur which will need to be carefully managed. The trees should recover in time.