Richard Gere faces a fine of up to $50,000 for cutting down trees on his property.

The 'Amelia' actor failed to seek the appropriate permission before having around 200 trees removed from the grounds of his estate in Pound Ridge, Westchester, New York, in a move which has perplexed local residents.

One neighbour said: "This is a town where money isn't an issue. What matters are good manners and caring about the community. People have been supportive of him, but I'm not sure what he was thinking."

Another told the New York Post newspaper: "The Feeling is that he acted a bit precipitously in clearing the trees. People are somewhat disappointed that he didn't follow procedure.

"Rather than seeking the proper channels and permits, he hired someone to cut them down. He's generally a good neighbour. It was out of character."

Richard and wife Carey Lowell reportedly wanted the trees cleared to create a paddock for their horses, but could be fined $250 for each one chopped down without a permit.

The actor has claimed he only cut down around 150 trees and is believed to be in negotiations with town officials to replant a number of them.