Pensioner fights Auckland Council to cut down eucalyptus trees

The two eucalyptus trees on Oxford Terrace are a non-native species, which John Gibb feels is out of character for his ...
Kashka Tunstall

The two eucalyptus trees on Oxford Terrace are a non-native species, which John Gibb feels is out of character for his Cheltenham street.

A North Shore man is fighting Auckland Council for the right to cut down two eucalyptus trees whose falling limbs have smashed windows on his car. 

John Gibb has been communicating with council for two years, seeking permission to remove the non-native trees on the berm in front of his Cheltenham property, which he believes are a safety hazard to the community.

He and wife Eleanor moved into their property on Oxford Terrace in 2015, discovering quickly that dead limbs falling and debris from the trees were an issue.

This falling dead limb from a eucalyptus tree smashed John Gibb's rear window.
Kashka Tunstall

This falling dead limb from a eucalyptus tree smashed John Gibb's rear window.

"When we bought the property we didn't appreciate what a problem they'd be," Gibb said.

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The trees, which are still maturing, measure 18.5 metres and 20m. They have caused damage to the couple's property, including two vehicles.

The rear window of one car smashed from falling debris, while the other sustained a dent in the roof.

Gibb worried that locals walking on the footpaths under the trees were at risk of injury from falling limbs.

He was also concerned about the Vector power lines near the branches and called the company to check if they were a risk. It determined they were.

But Eleanor Gibb said concerns had fallen on deaf ears.

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Removing a tree of more than 4m in height is a restricted discretionary activity, requiring approval by council.

Gibb's previous applications have been denied, with council believing the trees were healthy and a low risk.

That has led Gibb to seek resource consent to get rid of the trees.

"The council have taken a position and they haven't listened to arguments against that," he said. 

"They have no interest in people or property, only the trees.

"They just say they're healthy trees and there's no justification in their view. That, of course, is not our view."

The pensioner said he had paid a "considerable amount" to have the trees assessed in order to make his application. 

He has also offered to pay for the removal of the trees, and to cover the cost of replanting a native species like rewarewa in their place.

His resource consent application has been publicly notified, with submissions open until Friday, October 20.

 - Stuff

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