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Jailed farmer sentenced again for environmental offences

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A farmer has been sentenced for organising the illegal felling of trees shortly before he was imprisoned for another environmental offence.

John Pudge Price, 69 of Day House Farm in Leominster, pleaded guilty today (31 January 2024) to illegally felling a large area of alder, willow, hazel and thorn trees that were around 50 years old.

trees felled

Forestry Commission agents attended the site in February 2022  following a report than men with heavy machinery were clearing an area in woodland around Ryelands Farm in Ludlow.

The men said they were working on behalf of John Price and denied knowing they needed a licence to fell the trees.

More trees felled

John Price failed to respond to letters from the Forestry Commission and they discovered he was actually in prison for illegally clearing a large tract of land next to the back of the River Lugg in Hereford.

In April 2023 he was jailed for 10 months for that offence and heavily fined. The sentence was later reduced on appeal.

He was brought back before magistrates in Hereford today. He was fined £1,750 and must pay costs to the Crown Prosecution Service of £135 and a Victim Surcharge of £175.

He told the magistrates that he had merely told the workmen to “coppice” the trees - a legal process where tress are cut back to ground level to stimulate growth. The court rejected this.

The case was prosecuted by a unit at CPS Mersey Cheshire that conducts cases of illegal tree felling investigated by the Forestry Commission.

Land cleared

Senior Crown Prosecutor George Ward said: “John Price earns a living from the land as a farmer but clearly has no real regard for it.

“He has broken the law on two occasions in quick succession and has been sentenced for further offending after a jail term for similar criminality.

“In this latest case, the Crown Prosecution Service successfully argued in court that coppicing wouldn’t require the heavy machinery that was on site.

“What John Price had ordered the men to do was deforestation. When faced with the evidence Price remained silent and entered a guilty plea.

“The care of both agricultural and recreational land is controlled by the law and the CPS works with the Forestry Commission, the Police and other statutory agencies to uphold that law.”

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