Anti-tree litigation has EDS bemused

The Property Council has launched an unusual challenge in the Environment Court to Auckland Council’s tree protection rules, says the Environmental Defence Society.

“We are aware that papers have been filed seeking a declaration from the Court with respect to matters that were subject to very similar proceedings and a decision just last year,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“As a result of those proceedings, the Court clarified the law and there were no appeals. These proceedings seem to having another go at something we thought was done and dusted.

“So we are somewhat bemused at this stage as to both what the Property Council is trying to achieve and why it has initiated the proceedings at all.

“The current law, as defined in the earlier proceedings, is that rules in a district plan that prohibit the removal of trees or groups of trees in an urban environment will continue to have effect if they relate to trees specifically identified in a plan.

“There are a number of ways district plans can identify trees to fall within this exception.

“Clusters of trees identified by location is one example. Trees may also be defined by reference to a named species in a defined area or zone; by reference to a class of trees with defined characteristics in a defined area or zone; and by reference to all trees in a named ecosystem, habitat or landscape.

“This seems to strike a reasonable balance that achieves the purpose of the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 which removed blanket tree protection whilst still protecting trees specifically identified in the plan.

“We intend to seek a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Property Council to discuss the issues face to face.

“It may be that some mistake has been made,” Mr Taylor concluded.

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