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Tree felling riles locals

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014
Remuera residents
UNDER THREAT: Remuera residents Jane Yates, Judy Hughes, John Mitchell and Mike Wernham do not want any more native trees like this mature pohutukawa to disappear from the Remuera landscape.

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Two mature native trees were felled on a property in Remuera last week while angry residents watched.

Neighbour Mike Wernham is disappointed the pohutukawa and totara were allowed to be cut down.

"This is a valley and there was a creek running through the property before it was piped. A lot of these trees were there when the stream was there so it's part of the native vegetation that's been here for a long time."

The area attracts native wood pigeons, kingfishers, wax-eyes and fantails.

"Essentially the attractiveness and privacy of this area relies on the trees."

An amendment to the Resource Management Act 1991 removed general tree rules in urban areas from January 2012. But because of a decision by the Environment Court in 2011, several restrictions have been maintained (East & Bays Courier, March 1, 2013).

A tree may be protected because it is listed as scheduled in the district plan or is covered by a resource consent, covenant or consent notice on the title.

The Resource Management Reform Bill had its second reading in Parliament on June 25, and aims, among other things, to clarify tree protection rules.

The rules will apply only to a "tree or group of trees that is specifically identified in a schedule to a plan by street address or legal description of the land".

Mr Wernham says the changes go too far.

"Five years ago it was quite difficult to get consent to cut down a tree that was a nuisance. Now it's swung totally the other way."

Judy Hughes' house is behind the property where the trees stood. She has lived on the street for 32 years and when she moved in the pohutukawa was already enormous.

It would have been at least 70 years old, she says.

"I think people living in a close environment like this need to have care and consideration for neighbours. You turn a lovely street with a nice outlook into this jungle of houses."

Another neighbour Jane Yates was surprised the trees were not protected.

"It might be private property but cutting down tall trees affects everyone around them. I do think there should be some accountability."

The owner of the property where the tree was felled could not be reached for comment.

Orakei Local Board member Troy Churton receives several calls and emails from residents about trees being felled every week.

"To allow mature, native trees to be felled without a consent threatens the inter-generational qualities of our green, leafy suburbs."

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He urges people to nominate trees as well as submit on the proposed Auckland unitary plan about the need for native tree protection.

Submissions close on February 28.

Go to aucklandcouncil.govt.nz and search proposed unitary plan.

- East And Bays Courier

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