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Urgent removal of pines in Western Springs Lakeside Park

Thirteen trees identified for immediate removal.

Published: 24 January 2019

Latest update - 16 October 2019

The appeal against the resource consent decision has been settled and, subject to further planning, the pine trees will be removed in March/April 2020.

Felling work is expected to take around three to four weeks, with the full project taking around two months. This time frame avoids bird nesting season. New tree planting will start immediately after the pine trees are felled.

Check out the council’s website for more information.

Latest update – 19 August 2019

The track through the trees in Western Springs was closed in April 2018 following a number of tree failures. It remains closed due to concerns for the safety of path users as there is a high risk of trees toppling or snapping and falling onto the path. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 we had an obligation to close the track to protect the public.

The resource consent to fell the trees was granted in May 2019. The commissioners accepted that removing the trees is necessary due to ongoing and increasing safety concerns.

The resource consent decision is currently being appealed. The tracks will remain closed until we know the outcome. The timeframe for the appeal process is unknown at this point.

Subject to the appeal, the next window to remove the trees is March/April 2020 to avoid bird nesting season.

Once underway, we estimate that the project will take up to two months, with actual felling work taking about one and a half months. The area, including the tracks, will be closed to the public until after the trees are removed.

Click here for more information.

Original story

Following concerns raised by residents affected by Auckland Council’s planned emergency tree felling works along the western side of Western Springs Lakeside Park have been delayed so that further engagement can take place with residents.

The council has applied for a resource consent to remove the entire stand of 200+ pines in the forest block and replace them with a native forest. However, following concerns expressed by a neighbouring resident in November, a site inspection took place with a qualified council arborist and an independent arborist which identified the deteriorated and dangerous state of 13 trees in the park which pose an immediate risk to neighbouring residents and their property.

Due to the seriousness of this risk, the 13 dead and dying trees will be felled under emergency provisions of the Unitary Plan next week. This is a permitted activity in its own right and does not circumvent the council’s resource consent application for the removal of the remaining trees.

“Many of the larger pines at Western Springs are either dead, have heavily reduced canopies, have sustained damage by fire, or are visually displaying poor health," says Simon Randall, Acting Head of Operational Management and Maintenance at Auckland Council.

"Our team regularly inspects larger trees and those presenting an immediate risk to person or property are removed.

“The health of a number of trees along the western side of Western Springs was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that they present a very real stability risk. We have had to act immediately to protect residents and their properties.

“Removal of such large trees is a logistical challenge, which is compounded by the fact that health and safety requirements state properties within two tree lengths need to be evacuated during removal. We are working with residents of West View Road who are directly affected by this work.”

Tree removal dates and temporary area closure

The works are expected to take around four days and had initially been scheduled to take place from Tuesday 22 January until Friday 25 January between the hours of 8am and 3pm.

The residents of some of the properties on West View Road adjacent to the pine stand will need to briefly vacate their properties at some point during this period for their own safety. This in line with WorkSafe’s tree felling rules which state that ‘no person shall be closer than two tree lengths to a tree being felled, unless that person is: the faller, assisting the faller, supervising training others or being trained observing or auditing’.

Vacating properties will only be required while some of the thirteen affected trees are being felled so the times that residents will need to leave their properties will vary. The timing is also flexible enabling the works to take place during times that are suitable for the affected residents. In any case, the council’s arboriculture contractor will door knock the affected properties to ensure that they are empty while the works take place. The works on trees that risk falling on neighbouring properties will not take place while the properties are occupied.

Most of the time scheduled for the tree felling works will be used to set up the crew for each individual tree, the actual time needed to fell the trees should be between 20 to 60 minutes per tree. This means that it is a possibility for people to only leave their properties for short periods of time.

The access to the western section of the reserve has been temporarily closed while this work takes place.

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