Billionaire ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and founder of family-owned Godolphin racing stables. He and his sixth and junior wife Princess Haya hit headlines in June after she reportedly fled Dubai and her husband in fear for her life. But while Princess Haya is believed to be living with her children in her £85 million home in Kensington, west London, her husband has been accused of disregarding a Preservation Order for 30 historic trees located around his Surrey mansion.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed felled 30 historic trees around his home to make way for a barbed wire fence.
The trees surrounding his Longcross estate, located near Chobham, were subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) drawn up by Surrey County Council in 1948.
However, photographs and images from Google Earth appear to reveal the trees are no longer standing.
Sheikh Mohammed has been at the centre of several planning disputes since he purchased the mansion in Surrey.
In May, he caused a stir when he installed temporary homes for his staff on his country estate.
He was accused of showing “cynical disregard” for planning laws by erecting a 6 foot high “prison-like” metal security fence around his home in Surrey.
Angry neighbours said he was damaging the environment and putting wildlife at risk.
A document submitted by a neighbour against the portable buildings contains photographs of at least eight portable buildings, as well as four pagoda-style marquees.
The letter from May 2017 asked why there had been no planning permission for the work.
The concerned resident wrote: “I am increasingly concerned that there is one planning law for one of the wealthiest men in the world and quite another for the rest of us.”
Last December he caused more upset after installing a mental barbed wire fence around his property, gaining retrospective planning permission six months later.
Locals have said it looks like a ‘concentration camp’, and blocks vital pathways for wildlife.
However, Runnymede Borough Council approved the fence and denied protected trees had been felled.
According to data.gov.uk, a Tree Preservation Order “gives legal protection against a tree being cut down, topped, lopped, uprooted, wilfully damaged or wilfully destroyed.”
It is therefore an offence to do any of these actions without first obtaining consent from the Local Planning Authority.
The punishment for anyone found guilty of this offence is a fine up to £20,000 if convicted in the magistrate’s court.
At the end of July Princess Haya of Jordan petitioned the court for a forced marriage protection order and a non-molestation order.
She was represented by Baroness Shackleton, a specialist divorce lawyer who worked with Prince Charles during his divorce proceedings with Princess Diana and on the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce.
The case between Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya will be heard in November.