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Decisions about tree rules in Waitakere

Posted by SCe Comments Off on Decisions about tree rules in Waitakere

IMGP0318 Auckland Council has decided to resist any further revoking of urban tree rules in the legacy Waitakere City Council District Plan.

Following Government legislation to ban any “general” tree rules in urban areas, WCC, the North Shore City Council and Auckland Regional Council sought a declaratory judgement to ascertain exactly what this meant. The court decided that where tree rules were supported by policies and objectives then they could be retained in District Plans. This was appealed by the Property Council, a grouping of developers and others.

Recently, the Council voted to put the legal action between itself and the Property Council on hold (because of the impending legislation discussed below) and to revoke tree rules in various urban parts of the city. This was supported by a majority of councillors, however, others argued that the Council should fight on, as Aucklanders would expect its Council to defend Auckland’s trees.

tree nihotupuMore recently the Council was asked to revoke more tree rules as is being sought by the Property Council. These specifically applied to the Laingholm and Titirangi parts of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area which were deemed to be urban under the legislative criteria (mainly because they have reticulated water and wastewater).

Led by the local ward councillors – Sandra Coney and Penny Hulse – the councillors decided not to revoke to these tree rules, but defend them.

Concerns were about the ecological effects, but also stability of these areas which are prone to slippage.

In other tree news, the Council also received the results of Plan Change 41. This added about 240 new trees and groups of trees to the tree schedules for Waitakere.

Although many trees, especially pohutukawa, were nominated from Piha and Karekare, Council officers did not evaluate trees outside the urban area. Instead it was left to the nominator to pay for an arboreal assessment themselves. Commissioners decided that the pohutukawa at 63 Seaview Road, where an arboreal assessment was carried out, were to be  included in the new schedule.

Other nominated trees go forward for the Unitary Plan process.

This brings to four the number of trees or groups of trees at Piha that are in schedules for protection: 23 Piha Road (pohutukawa on rock), kauri in regional parkland beyond Pendrell Reserve, two macrocarpas in Piha Domain, and four pohutukawa at 63 Seaview Road.

The Government is also pursuing changes to the tree rules through its Resource Management Act Reform Bill which was introduced into the House on 5 December 2012. This determines that the only tree protection that would be available for groups of trees would be if they were in plan heritage tree schedules and that they must be specifically identified through street address.

With large areas of trees,such as the Waitakeres, this becomes a very difficult task, consequently the Auckland Council is submitting to the Select Committee that amendments be made to the proposed legislation to allow for important groups of trees that traverse multiple sites such as significant areas of native vegetation in the Waitakeres, to be protected without having to specify addresses and legal descriptions.

It is also seeking that “a group of trees” can include large tracts of native bush and that significant vegetation can include trees that are not strictly contiguous, such as coastal pohutukawa.

tree anawhata



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