Norfolk pine a safety risk

Environment Court says there are immediate safety concerns

Publish Date : 13 Jan 2016

A scheduled notable tree in Mt Albert is likely to be removed to protect a heritage house and its residents.

Branches from the listed Norfolk pine at 10 Woodward Road have dropped onto the house on several occasions, causing damage to the building, including falling through the roof and ceiling into a living area and nearly hitting an occupant.

In December 2015, the property owner sought a declaration from the Environment Court that, if he immediately removed the pine without a resource consent, he would have a statutory defence to any prosecution the council might bring under the Resource Management Act.

A resource consent is required to trim or remove scheduled trees.

The Environment Court considered evidence from arborists for both the council and the owner and commented, given the serious risk to human life and property, that the removal of the tree would be reasonable in this case and there would be a defence from any prosecution. The judge added that serious risk to life was a paramount consideration.

The Environment Court could not make a final determination on the matter because any prosecution could be undertaken in the District Court.

Mark White, Auckland Council's Manager Central Resource Consents, says the council has agreed that the owners of 10 Woodward Road would not be prosecuted if they removed the tree from their property without a resource consent, due to immediate safety concerns to people and property.

“The circumstances surrounding this issue are unique and the court was clear that its comments are based only on the circumstances of this case.

“This case should not be seen as creating a precedent should other owners of scheduled trees wish to fell them.”

Find out more about tree protection rules in Auckland

Back to News