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Auckland’s Natural Tree Heritage Doomed

Media Release
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council
For Immediate Release
Thursday 12 November 2009

Auckland’s Natural Tree Heritage Doomed

Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) Councillors, at the City Development Committee today, doomed Auckland’s mature trees to oblivion when they opted to only list and check 300 trees with no new scheduling protection provided for any of the city’s trees.

Councillor Glenda Fryer said, “C&R has chosen not to leave a natural tree heritage legacy to the people of Auckland.  Aucklanders will find it reprehensible and extremely short-sighted that in a year’s time when the supercity comes on stream, there will be no plan change to protect the vast majority of Auckland’s oldest and most sacred trees.  City Development General Manager John Duthie conceded that the new Auckland Council having enough time to do the scheduling prior to the Government’s 1 January 2012 legislated deadline would be ‘marginal’.  With that advice, C&R Councillors have given a death sentence to Auckland’s heritage trees.  I note that the Government has indicated that Councils should start the process of scheduling trees that must be saved.  C&R Councillors are thumbing their noses at the Minister for the Environment with their ill-conceived efforts to save money at the expense of protecting our community’s future.  This is nickel-and-diming at its worst, especially at a time when Council has under spent the Rugby World Cup 2011 roading improvements budget by over a million dollars to date!” Councillor Fryer continued.

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Councillor Leila Boyle said, “Today, City Vision-Labour Councillors fought for the Council to make a public call for trees to schedule and then review and notify a plan change to protect these trees prior to 1 November 2010.  We believe that due to the huge pressure on the new Auckland Council to amalgamate policy, plans and budgets following the transition into the new unitary local authority, there is no way it can do this very important tree protection work in time if it is not even begun until after 1 November next year.  With the new Auckland Council’s time being spread very thin over many issues over the first year or so, I find it outrageous that C&R won’t carry this work out now, and it is a terribly thoughtless decision when you consider that the C&R dominated Avondale-Roskill and Eastern Bays wards currently have virtually no scheduled trees at all.  What is a great city without its natural heritage protected for the generations to come?  A concrete wasteland populated by sparse and small trees where people will choose not to live, work and play!”

Councillor Cathy Casey said, “If we are to remain a green city we must listen to The Tree Council and the Government and afford every protection possible to our heritage trees.  We owe it to our children to keep Auckland green.”

ENDS

Contact:

Councillor Leila Boyle                  027 245 1440
Councillor Cathy Casey               027 474 4231
Councillor Glenda Fryer               027 272 0816

Additional Information:

The City Development Committee report and two appendices can be found here:

Officer report: http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/members/committeemeetings/city/20091112_0930/CDC-12112009-OPN-AGD-%2309.pdf
Attachment 1: Location of scheduled trees on the Auckland City isthmus: http://www.aucklandcitygovt.nz/council/members/committeemeetings/city/20091112_0930/CDC-12112009-OPN-AGD-%2309A.pdf
Attachment 2: Cost of site visits: http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/members/committeemeetings/city/20091112_0930/CDC-12112009-OPN-AGD-%2309B.pdf

A corrected map (provided by officers at the meeting) showing the current 657 scheduled trees and tree groups in Auckland city and the 55 trees nominated by community boards for possible scheduling can be found here: http://www.cityvision.org.nz/images.php?oid=726 (in jpeg format, 1.3MB) and here: http://www.cityvision.org.nz/images.php?oid=728 (pdf format, 657KB)

City Vision-Labour’s unsuccessful amendment read:

That the City Development Committee:

B.        recognises the need for the new Auckland council to make policy decisions in relation to trees across the whole region.  Accordingly, council officers are requested to commence work on a review of the status of the scheduled tree list in the isthmus and central area sections of the Auckland City district plan, and assessment of trees that have been proposed for scheduling at various times since 2000and also make a public call for scheduling and review and notify a plan change to protect these trees prior to 1 November 2010, as outlined under option 3b in the manager, heritage and manager Islands report dated 27 October 2009, in order to provide the new Auckland council with quality information and advice.

The full C&R resolution passed today read:

That the City Development Committee:

A.        notes that the new Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 permits tree trimming as of right effective 1 October 2009 and removal of general tree protection rules as of 1 January 2012.

B.        recognises the need for the new Auckland council to make policy decisions in relation to trees across the whole region.  Accordingly, council officers are requested to commence work on a review of the status of the scheduled tree list in the isthmus and central area sections of the Auckland City district plan, and assessment of trees that have been proposed for scheduling at various times since 2000, as outlined under option 2b in the manager, heritage and manager Islands report dated 27 October 2009, in order to provide the new Auckland council with quality information and advice.

C.        notes that the wording of the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 as it relates to general tree protection is open to interpretation and that the council’s position is that the following are not subject to the amendment act’s provisions and their protection is still permitted after 1 January 2010:

(i)         scheduled trees

(ii)        trees on public land, including streets, parks and reserves

(iii)       trees in the area covered by the islands section of the district plan

(iv)       trees in the area covered by the central area section of the district plan

(v)        cliff line tree amenity area

(vi)       any other site or area that does not meet the definition of “urban environment” in the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009.

D.        requests officers to be involved and report back to the City Development Committee for authorisation to become a party to any proceedings if the other territorial local authorities consider seeking a declaratory judgement from the Environment Court on the interpretation of the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009.
ends

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