A man who cut branches off a protected oak tree in the front garden of someone's house without council permission has been fined more than £1,000.

Nicholas Joys, 46, admitted lopping the mature oak which was protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) without telling Buckinghamshire Council.

The tree, in a front garden of a house fronting the River Thames in Taplow, had several branches cut off before it was reported to the council.

Council officers went to the house and stopped Mr Joys, of Owlsmoor in Sandhurst, from causing any more damage.

He was later interviewed under caution and summoned to appear at Wycombe Magistrates Court.

On Wednesday, August 5, he admitted cutting the tree at the High Wycombe court.

Although the tree was only damaged and not felled, he still committed a crime by carrying out work on a tree without permission from the council, magistrates were told.

At the hearing , Mr Joys admitted working on the tree from the outset and told the court that he had no knowledge of trees and in future would seek professional help with the work.

The court fined Mr Joys £553 and ordered him to pay a £55 victim surcharge as well as £420 towards the council's legal costs.

Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement, Warren Whyte said: "This prosecution should serve as a warning to others that we take the protection of our natural environment, green space and trees very seriously and will not hesitate to take court action if someone flouts the law.

"Ignorance is not a defence in these matters and anyone who is in any doubt about whether a tree is protected should first check with the council before they carry out any work.”