'Trees are healthy'

Laywer: No need to condemn them

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 11:55 20/02/2013
Southland Times photo
GRANT BRYANT/Fairfax NZ
Queenstown lawyer Bryce Whiting between a condemned eucalyptus tree and the sewer pipe it has been alleged it could damage on the Frankton track.

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Ten of eleven gum trees on death row after council claims they were frost damaged and have to be felled are perfectly healthy, a Queenstown lawyer says.

Press releases and ‘letter drops' to property owners near the Frankton Track saying the trees need to be dropped because of frost damage were issued by the Queenstown Lakes District Council in late November.

The press release and residents' letter say "the few eucalyptus that are left are in poor health due to annual frost damage."

However, lawyer Bryce Whiting, who previously battled the council over a proposal to downscale the grassy verge and remove trees from locals' and tourists' lakeside hotspot Earnslaw Park said both documents painted a wrongful picture of the gum trees.

"Frost damage is easy to pick because it deadens branches and leaves and anyone who bothers to check out the accuracy of these council claims will see that of the 11 gum trees they are wanting felled, only one suffers from poor health because of frost damage," he said.

He had no problem with the frost damaged tree being felled but was horrified the remaining 10 could face the axe.

"It is inaccurate and may sound as if there is good reason for these trees to be removed when that is just not the case."

Of further concern was the council claim that the eucalyptus trees' root systems could cause damage to a large sewer pipe that runs along the Frankton track.

"A number of trees are close enough to the sewer line that their root plate could lift the pipes. This could also affect track user safety," the council's letter to residents states.

The root systems will go naturally head down towards the water, which is the lake, not across and uphill towards the pipe," Mr Whiting said.

Council parks manager Gordon Bailey said whether the eucalyptus trees were frost damaged was "a matter of interpretation."

Feedback on the issue closed in mid-January. The matter will be heard at the council's next Community Services Committee meeting in April.

"Seventeen or 18 submissions," were received on the matter Mr Bailey said.

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- The Mirror

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