$36k fine for illegal tree felling

A landowner whose arborist illegally felled 110 trees in a reserve near Kaiteriteri last year has today been fined $36,000.

Judge Brian Dwyer last month found Arrowtown man Michael John Davies, whose family's wealth is estimated at $90 million, guilty 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.

This morning Judge Dwyer fined him $36,000, plus solicitors and court costs, saying the sheer number of trees removed, and the size of the area from which they were removed, took his offending out of the trivial or minor category.

The arborist, Simon Carney, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of contravening the Resource Management Act 199 by cutting down the trees. He has had his case adjourned until June 14, pending the outcome of a restorative justice process.

Landscaper Christopher Donald, of Great Southern Landscapes, was charged with cutting down trees under the Reserves Act. He changed his plea to guilty this morning, and was discharged without conviction by Judge Dwyer.