Developers flouting planning laws relating to listed buildings and protected trees can now face fines up to £100,000.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood yesterday announced that magistrates' courts will be given the power to impose hefty fines for certain offences.
It constitutes a threefold increase on the previous figure laid down for such crimes.
"This sends out a clear message to anyone seeking to ride roughshod over our built and natural heritage, to think again," Mr Attwood said.
"I am committed to protecting our built and natural environment and to effective planning enforcement.
"In my opinion, the fines that were issued in the past were not a significant deterrent to those who demolished listed buildings and felled trees.
"They could still pay the fine and make significant profits from building on the ground they had razed.
"These fines which are now on the statute book will act as a real deterrent to those who flout planning controls.
"They could either put a huge dent in or wipe out any potential financial gain by an unscrupulous developer, demolishing a listed building or felling trees protected by a tree preservation order."
Royal Assent has been given to the new Planning Bill, enabling the increased fine to go on the statute books.