Battle over trees costly but 'worth it'

CIARA PRATT
Last updated 07:24 11/12/2012
Oak Tree

SAVED: The oak tree and pohutukawa tree on Rosebank Rd have been added to the Schedule of Notable Trees after a three-year battle.

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Two famous Avondale trees have been saved after a three-year battle - but one of their advocates will not get to see the final result.

Thought to be nearly 100 years old, the pohutukawa tree and oak tree at 321 Rosebank Rd have both been added to the Schedule of Notable Trees by Auckland Council.

When a tree is added to the schedule, it cannot be cut down or removed without a resource consent application to the council.

Former Tree Council chairwoman Sigrid Shayer had been part of the fight to save the trees since late 2009, when Connell Place Limited made a resource consent application to remove both trees.

However, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 2011 and passed away in March this year before the dispute was resolved.

Developer John McKearney planned to remove the trees to make way for an access road for a subdivision. The pohutukawa and oak sit on a 10-hectare site.

Tree Council field officer Hueline Massey says it is very unfortunate Ms Shayer never got to see the final outcome of the long battle.

"We are comforted that the trees will continue to live on in her memory, recalling how Sigrid fought so tirelessly to save them, at the very time she was battling for her own life.

"But it still is a victory tinged with sadness that the developers can be so blind as to the importance and beauty of these trees."

The battle saw several resource consent applications made by CPL to remove the trees with proceedings moving to the High Court and Environment Court.

A decision by Auckland Council in May to add the trees to the schedule was met with an appeal by CPL to the Environment Court.

The company withdrew its appeals against the tree removal and tree-scheduling in November.

Ms Massey says it has been a long journey, which the Tree Council describes as "protracted and messy".

"I'd have to say that the Tree Council is very disappointed with the developer's attitude, they have looked at these trees as nothing but a nuisance since the word go.

"They could have planned around them."

The development will still go ahead, however it will not be able to impact on the trees and their roots.

Ms Massey says the whole process has cost them thousands of dollars but it was worth it.

The developer, John McKearney from Connell Place Limited, declined to comment.

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