Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Residents warn of tree danger

The protection of huge trees is being put before the safety of people and homes below them, say critics of Auckland City's notable tree list.

At the first of the hearings this week on proposals to add a further 732 trees on 373 private properties to the isthmus protected list, Epsom resident Helen Wenley complained that brittle branches fell from a peppermint gum tree overhanging her apartment's roof and a busy footpath.

She said the council did not undertake a risk analysis of the tree when it was mooted for protection.

"The propensity for this tree injuring or killing anyone is great," said Mrs Wenley. "Why is this tree getting a greater protection than residents?"

Saying the danger from falling gum trees was well known, she showed pictures of damage in Australia and a picture of an old pohutukawa tree crushing six unoccupied cars at nearby Epsom Girls' Grammar in February.

"If Auckland Council insists on protecting this tree, then they also need to take responsibility and pay the costs if any property and persons are damaged or injured," said Mrs Wenley.

Andrew McAlpine of Remuera intends to make a similar plea today.

A wellingtonia, or sequoia, in his "smallish" front yard has grown to 20m and he said yesterday he was told the species could grow to 60m.

"To be honest, I like the tree but it's like having an elephant for a pet."

Auckland Council arborists took into account a tree's life expectancy but not the risk of its falling when they assessed the 2800 trees nominated.

But Tree Council field officer Hueline Massey said arborists would not recommend a tree for the schedule if they thought it was in danger of falling over in the near future.

- NZ Herald

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