Herefordshire farmer jailed after admitting to second environmental offence 

Herefordshire farmer John Price 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, Herefordshire, pleaded guilty to illegally felling a large area of trees.
Photo provided by CPS.

John Pudge Price, 69, of Day House Farm in Leominster, pleaded guilty to illegally felling a large area of alder, willow, hazel, and thorn trees that were around 50 years old, according to a statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  

The CPS said that Price organised the illegal tree felling shortly before he was sentenced to a 12-month jail term last year and handed a £600,000 fine for what they termed the “wanton destruction” of the protected River Lugg in Herefordshire. At the time, he defended his actions, insisting that the work was done to tackle flooding, and received some support from locals for his actions. 

Forestry Commission agents attended the site in February 2022, following a report that 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 said they did not know they needed a licence to fell the trees.  

Illegal tree felling  

When the farmer did not respond to letters from the Forestry Commission, the commission discovered he was in fact 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.  

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He was brought back before magistrates in Hereford at the end of January 2024 and fined £1,750. The farmer told magistrates that he had told the workmen to “coppice” the trees – a legal process where trees are cut back to ground level to stimulate growth, but 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.  

Photo provided by CPS.

Ordered to do deforestation

According to CPS press release, 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 offences 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.”  

Photo provided by CPS.

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