A scaffolding firm which was operating on green belt land without planning permission has been fined £30,000.

Three Rivers District Council took Watford Scaffolding Ltd to court after the company ignored an enforcement notice to leave the site.

The notice was issued in August 2018 after the council says it received a "significant number of complaints" about the use of land at Mill Bridge in Hunton Bridge, which had been turned into a scaffolding contractor's yard.

Council enquiries in 2018 established the company had changed the use of the land off the A41 without planning permission.

The company said it had moved to the site after it was forced from its previous site at short notice.

Watford Scaffolding Ltd appealed the enforcement notice served in 2018 but it was thrown out by a government planning inspector.

Previous story: Scaffolding company must leave greenbelt site after losing appeal

The company was told it had to leave the site by February 18 2020, but the company remained where it was past this February deadline, prompting the council to take further legal action.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a hearing was delayed until the end of November.

At Stevenage Magistrates' Court on November 25, representatives from Watford Scaffolding Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an enforcement notice contrary to section 179(5) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,550.

The scaffolding company is expected to leave its current site by the end of January.

The council says the company will face further prosecution if it remains on site beyond January.

Councillor Steve Drury, the council’s lead member for planning, said: "The council was clear from the start that if the company did not leave the site we would take legal action.

"The unauthorised use has caused considerable harm to the green belt but also to nearby residents who have had to put up with a lot of noise and disturbance which is unacceptable.

"It is hoped the company now leaves as promised."