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Landowner jailed after breach of injunction prohibiting development in woodland

A landowner who breached a High Court injunction preventing illegal development on woodland has been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

Gareth Daniel Sullivan was sentenced at the High Court on 18 October after he accepted he was in breach of an injunction obtained by Gravesham Borough Council preventing the felling of protected trees and the development of land at Fowlers Stone Wood, Vigo.

The council was granted an interim injunction preventing work on the site, which is within the Metropolitan Green Belt, the Meopham Down Special Landscape Area, and which is covered by a Woodland Tree Preservation Order, at the start of May 2020.

Gravesham subsequently succeeded in its application for a final order, which also required Sullivan to remove buildings, other structures and associated material from the site.

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Cllr John Burden, Leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said: “Mr Sullivan has shown a complete disregard for the law and the legal measures in place to stop him continuing the destruction of Fowlers Stone Wood.

“I know this case has caused great distress, anger and frustration for local people, just as it has for members and officers of this authority.

“However, we have been clear in our own minds throughout that we needed to follow our own legal advice to the letter and to build up a body of evidence sufficient to convince the High Court that a substantial breach of its own injunction had occurred.”

Cllr Burden added: “The fact that Sullivan is now behind bars highlights the seriousness of his actions and is testament to the diligent work of our enforcement officers and legal team, aided in no small part by our local members, residents and the parish council.”

The site is subject to a planning appeal following the council’s refusal of a retrospective planning application for work carried out there.

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