Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Tree protection inquiry labelled farce

Chris Darby says it is upsetting how few trees won approval. Photo / Dean Purcell
Chris Darby says it is upsetting how few trees won approval. Photo / Dean Purcell

A public inquiry into boosting the number of protected trees on the North Shore has been called a farce by residents whose nominated trees were rejected by independent commissioners.

The panel of three commissioners authorised by Auckland Council to decide additional notable trees in the North Shore District Plan could not agree on last week's decision report.

Public expectations of nearly 400 new trees being safe from reforms of the tree chopping laws had been dashed, said Devonport-Takapuna local board chairman Chris Darby.

People would be dismayed at how few of the trees nominated by the public survived the hearing process, he said yesterday.

He said the commissioners seemed to have ignored evidence backing any nomination faced with an opposing submission.

"I nominated a magnificent pohutukawa on the cliff at my home for protection but it was rejected."

The panel also threw out any nomination that did not identify the tree by a street number.

"Members of the former Devonport Community Board walked the streets to obtain as clear an identification of trees as possible."

Forest & Bird Society North Shore chairman Dr Richard Hursthouse said the decision was farcical and grossly inadequate.

Dr Hursthouse said blocks of bush nominated by the society were rejected for not coming with enough information, despite being clearly marked on a map.

"We now have a Government determined to remove general tree protection so the outlook for North Shore trees other than those within reserves is bleak."

The panel members were Conway Stewart (chairman), Kathleen Ryan and Harry Bhana.

The proposed plan change 36 decision showed about 1120 individual trees, or groups of trees, already on the list, survived a review of their worthiness. About 425 of the specimens proposed were deemed unworthy for protection but 240 were approved.

Decisions by other council panels in recent months have added 600 to the protection schedules of district plans for the Auckland Isthmus, 200 in Manukau, 58 in Papakura and 300 in Rodney.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 23 Sep 2014 17:38:21 Processing Time: 409ms