Hotelier Gulzar drops appeal against £135,000 fine and costs after damaging Pevensey Levels land

Sheikh Abid Gulzar at his Lions Farm on Pevensey Levels. Sept 30th 2010 E39108L_adjusted ENGSUS00120130924104726
Sheikh Abid Gulzar at his Lions Farm on Pevensey Levels. Sept 30th 2010 E39108L_adjusted ENGSUS00120130924104726
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Hotelier Sheikh Abid Gulzar has dropped his appeal against a fine and costs of £135,000 he incurred after admitting damaging protected land on Pevensey Levels.

Gulzar, 69, of Manion Lions Hotel, had pleaded guilty to damaging the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which is an internationally important wetland site, when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court on September 24 2013.

Natural England brought the prosecution against Mr Gulzar following the discovery of a series of ‘damaging activities’ carried out on his land to create a farm, none of which had been given consent.

He was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000, but decided to appeal against the amount.

However, at the settlement hearing on February 2 this year, Mr Gulzar agreed to pay the full costs imposed by the court, and entered into a court undertaking to carry out further restoration works to the site by May 31.

Melanie Hughes, Natural England’s area manager for Sussex and Kent, said, “Pevensey Levels is a fragile and historic environment, which needs to be managed sympathetically to safeguard the rare species that survive there.

“We are pleased that Mr Gulzar has agreed to settle the case and we will be working closely with him, alongside other landowners, to enable this special site to be managed appropriately.

“This open landscape is an important asset for everyone to enjoy.”

Mr Gulzar initially pleaded guilty to three offences of carrying out operations without Natural England’s consent, including planting of non-native trees, erecting fencing, and erecting temporary structures in November 2012, later pleading guilty to the remaining charges of constructing a track and a bridge.

Natural England, as the government’s environment adviser, is responsible for the protection of SSSIs and works with landowners and managers to help achieve this.

It has regulatory powers to prevent damaging operations from taking place on SSSIs and where damage does occur it can take appropriate enforcement action, including prosecuting offenders.