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.
Western Springs Park circuit walk is closed and has been cordoned off because of significant damage during this week’s storm.
Several trees have come down and need to be removed, while others have dangling and unstable limbs that pose significant risks to the public. Arborists are on site assessing damage and people are urged to avoid the park.
Restoring native bush to the park
Widespread damage across the park has highlighted the urgency of the plan to restore native bush to the area now home to a stand of pine trees.
Waitematā Local Board deputy chair Shale Chambers says an initial assessment shows about 10 of the 200 trees in the stand fell or snapped.
“The damage accords with the board's advice that the trees are failing at an increasing rate.
“That is why the board can’t give any assurance more work won’t be done in the area. But decisions will be made, where necessary, for genuine health and safety reasons. Nothing will happen as an early implementation of the plan.”
Chambers says board members have never had any direct involvement in cutting the pines.
“Anything done has been decided by arborists and parks staff, who make health and safety decisions about the track and park, to keep property and lives safe,” he said.
Notified consent process
Plans to restore native bush to the area will go through a notified consent hearing process.
“Board members believe the plan is in the public interest, but anyone who wants to question the advice we have relied on will have their opportunity,” Chambers says.
“The board will be bound by the outcome. The consultation is therefore a publicly-notified resource consent hearings process available to all, and the board welcomes that.
“Council advice can be tested there. If the project gets consent, the pine removal phase of the project could proceed. Locals and interested parties would then be involved in consultation on the future of the area and the restoration project, as promised.”
Fukuoka Friendship Garden still open
Council staff received 1070 reports of downed trees, and significant power-cuts swept the region. Fire and emergency services received 1200 calls during the storm.
While Western Springs was badly hit, Fukuoka Friendship Garden escaped largely unscathed, and remains accessible from Auckland Zoo carpark.