Rich-lister guilty in tree-felling case

Last updated 12:28 15/02/2013

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A Queenstown Rich-lister has been found guilty in the Environment Court at Nelson of a charge relating to the illegal felling of 110 trees in a reserve near Kaiteriteri.

After a three day hearing earlier this week, Judge Brian Dwyer found Arrowtown man Michael John Davies guilty of a charge under the Resource Management Act of employing an arborist who, on February 27 and 28 last year, cut down 110 trees next to his large holiday home at a reserve on Stephens Bay headland managed by the Tasman District Council.

Judge Dwyer dismissed another charge under the Reserves Act, saying it was unclear whether Davies had procured the arborist, or whether the arborist was a sub-contractor employed by Davies' landscaper.

Regarding the Resource Management Act charge, Judge Dwyer said it was clear that Davies had not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the tree-felling.

He referred to a meeting at the property prior to the tree-felling in which Davies did not point out the boundaries of his land to the landscaper and arborist, despite it being clear they intended to remove trees that were in the reserve.

Davies did not identify the boundaries, ensure they were adequately marked, and satisfy himself that those working on the property knew where they were, he said.

The arborist, Simon Carney, pleaded guilty to a charge of contravening the Resource Management Act by cutting down the trees, and has had his sentence remanded until March 7, pending the outcome of a restorative justice process.

Landscaper Christopher Donald, of Great Southern Landscapes, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of cutting down trees under the Reserves Act. His case was remanded until March 6.

Prosecutor Julian Ironside also withdrew a second Reserves Act charge against Davies relating to procuring Donald to cutting trees.

Davies declined to comment following the hearing.

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