NZ Herald on trees

September 9th, 2009 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

A Herald editorial:

Tree protectors have done their case no favours by fudging the issue on which they object to one of the Government’s imminent changes to the Resource Management Act. They have implied that in parks and coastal reserves are at risk. They are not. The Resource Management Amendment Bill specifically protects on public reserves. The real issue is the protection of urban on private property.

In other words trees owned by a homeowner, that are on a homeowner’s property.

Indeed, well-established trees may be valued more highly by the neighbourhood than by the latest owner of the property. It has therefore been deemed reasonable that the property owner should need the consent of the community’s representatives before destroying a feature of its skyline.

What the Herald overlooks though is that people will not plant trees as much, if they need the “community’s consent” to trim or fell it in future.

Rules governing the urban environment should be left for local councils to decide. The Government is grossly overstepping its responsibilities. The Prime Minister says we are “not going to see some sort of chainsaw massacre – councils can protect trees through individual notifications.” If he believes that, he is dreaming. When he wakes up, he will wonder where all the foliage has gone.

Every other local body in New Zealand, except those in Auckland, manages fine without blanket protection orders.

The reality is that eventually most applications to trim or fell get granted anyway – 98% is the figure I have read. So getting rid of the blanket rule will mean they can trim or fell their own trees without the not inconsiderable cost and delays.

For the 2% that were not given consent, they can be listed individually.

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17 Responses to “NZ Herald on trees”

  1. Brian Smaller (3,965 comments) says:

    If the “Community” values a tree on a private property more than the latest homeowner, then the “Community” should pay directly for the costs involved with maintenance of said tree, damage to property by roots, cleaning houses, cars and gutters.

    People plant trees suited for Pooh’s 100 Acre Wood, not 600m2 sections. In 20-30 years they are a menace.

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  2. homepaddock (408 comments) says:

    Why is the concept of proeprty rights so difficult for some people to grasp? If the trees are on private property they belong to the property owner who should be able to trim, fell or let them be without bothering the council.

    Requiring consent for any trimming or felling will discourage people from planinting trees or encourage them to fell them before they get big enough to attract notice.

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  3. dimmocrazy (286 comments) says:

    This is first and foremost a relatively simple philosophical debate about the absolute character of property rights, or more specifically about the extent to which we allow the government to erode such rights. (Or even by what means we allow the government to erode such rights)

    The RMA by itself is a massive attack on property rights, that was probably passed without many realizing the full extent of the potential breaches of property rights under it. If we would have had a half decent constitution, an Act as the RMA could never have passed, and all these silly problems would not have existed.

    Back to the trees: A tree is affixed naturally to the land and its ownership therefore lies with the registered owner of the land. Ownership includes the right to dispose, sell, destroy, whatever, as long as that activity does not trespass on other peoples’ rights. There is no right of enjoyment of someone else’s property, and there should not be such a right as it makes one person the slave of another. No legislation or regulation should be able to override property rights without full and appropriate compensation to the rights holder, and there ought to be due process to establish such compensation.
    The tree is part of the property, if the neighbors want to prevent cutting the tree, there are various simple contractual means whereby they can arrange that with the owner of the tree. They can enter into a covenant, they can purchase the entire property, etc. There is no need for government intervention whatsoever. If the tree gets chopped, the neighbours are always free to move somewhere else.

    We only have this debate because we have already succumbed to the notion that we are all individually “owned” by “society” (whatever that means). We can make jokes about CYFS workers receiving emails that they are ‘servants’ of the minister, but think about it long and hard, we all are servants and slaves to the state as it is, make no mistake about it.

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  4. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    It is outrageous that private property owners have to pay the costs of exercising their rights to prune or remove a tree.
    The argument is that the trees are a public benefit. If so then the public should pay the costs of protecting them and also pay for any damage caused by a tree which was not allowed to be pruned or chopped down even though the owner foresaw the danger and potential damage.

    The Herald argument also has an inconsistency. It claims that Aucklanders care so little for trees that they chop them down when the first leaf falls.

    If this is so then no body else will mind. Cannot have it both ways.
    Personally, if the Tree Council wants a bundle of trees listed they should do the work – not the average ratepayer who simply wants to look after their garden and plant a few more trees without having to watch it grow into a resource consent – and a benefit scheme for arborists who are a new breed of parasite now multiplying like weeds.

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  5. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    If councils want to protect a tree they should have to buy the land it stands on. End of story.

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  6. Chris Diack (680 comments) says:

    Another very “tory” editorial from the Herald. General tree protection is simply an uncompensated for regulatory taking.

    I don’t know why I am surprised by the Herald; the general tree protection provisions in Auckland were created by Citizens & Ratepayers. It hailed from the eastern suburbs who used to be anti infill housing. GTP made it harder to build. However now that phase is over and infill is accepted as the normal suburban form. It was always about status – I guess that is why the Herald like it.

    What is surprising is that the Nats in Wellington are having to do what a C&R majority could have done on the Council.

    The real irony is why the left support general tree protection; they are anti private space – that is what urban intensification is all about (besides getting rid of cars) outdoor private space isn’t needed; you have parks for that. Open private space (with trees and gardens) is wasteful in the city – think of all the rural hinterland (natural) consumed because of your selfish private garden (unatural and contrived). Think of the five story appartment building we could build on your land (with very limited carparks of course).

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  7. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    Chris: “The real irony is why the left support general tree protection; they are anti private space”

    No, they are anti private property. GTP is a means to their end of nationalising all property.

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  8. Chris Diack (680 comments) says:

    Alan

    Yes in one sense. I don’t disagree that its a uncompensated regulatory taking.

    Its purpose was never about trees. Its purpose was to slow up infill housing in wealthy suburbs with older residents who didn’t like a radical change occuring. GTP made the development more complex and expensive – development that was newly allowed for by the Council that wanted intensification and higher density of population. Most people say the support this until it comes to their own suburb (unless they are selling up that is)

    Thus GTP was always about status and class. In most wards it isn’t an issue because they simply dont have big trees on private properties either because of density, poverty or the fact that the houses are state owned. Ask yourself when you have ever seen a big native tree on a state house property? Ask yourself which high density property developer is quickest to zap vegetation in order to provide more housing for renting.

    The planners dont mind you owning your own property so long as its high density (which necessarily means little or no open private space and very few large trees) and has limited car parking i.e. anti personal mobility.

    I agree that planners do not have a rights based approach to rules but rather a transformational approach; rules are made to change the way you live to a more ideal way. However to be fair to most planners, general tree protection is not what most planners want; it makes intensification harder. That is why the way the GTP rules operate is if one is intensifying in most cases they will bend over backward to accommodate you – unless the local pols are involved – always makes things more difficult as the pols are always nervious about big changes in the local area.

    However try chopping the same tree for shading or view purposes and no other development – you haven’t a hope with the planners but you do have a hope with the local pols.

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  9. side show bob (3,410 comments) says:

    Chris Diack said “It’s purpose was never about trees.” Got that bloody right Chris as for your explanation, you would know more then me but if I was asked I would say “follow the money”. Councils are parasitic leeches ruled mainly by socialist suckholes incapable of finding a way of earning a honest living. These bastards will make laws till the cows come home, especially laws that put coin in these thieves pockets. I detest the bastards, as a rural land owner I get done over like a dogs dinner and for what?. About the only service I claim I use is the road but rural people are subsidising townies on a huge scale. Take our local town, pop 2000+, 5% of the ratepayers pay 95% of the rates payed in the area, guess where the 5% come from. And why are we paying way over the inflation rate, talk about socialism, more like fucking extortion.

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  10. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    side show bob…I admit to getting and using good services provided by council & government, but by the living prophet I pay for it!!
    Don’t talk to me about theives, the leeches in our society who take my personal and company tax as an ENTITLEMENT!!!
    That I & my staff earn over thousands of hours of genuine labour.

    don’t get me started @##%&**&

    Off topic a bit I know, sorry.

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  11. GPT1 (2,021 comments) says:

    I find it generally offensive that there is any talk about “community” owned trees on other people’s land. It’s just stupid anyway. Encourages people to cut their trees down before some nosyparker do gooder gets it into their head that the tree should be protected. Idiots. It’s a frigging tree for goodness sake. You can grow a new one!

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  12. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Yep, the thin edge of the wedge and all that.

    The green/socialist movement will continue to attack private property ownership rights by such methods.
    Landowners will become little more than tenants with no rights on what is their land in name only.

    The One Worlders are getting ready for their take over bid. Watch and weep.
    ‘It won’t happen overnight, but it WILL happen.’
    Hopefully I will have cashed my ticket in by the time of full implementation – and I’m not just talking about leaving NZ.
    (Up, up and a way, in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.)

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  13. side show bob (3,410 comments) says:

    Lofty, I feel your pain. But take comfort, these bastards are thick as and live in some alternate universe. Their sham claims that rates are set through consultation is a crock of shit. The more the dumb bastards raise rates the less wealth left in the economy to promote growth. Like the parasites they are they will eventually kill the host, watch the bastards squeal then.

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  14. Seán (373 comments) says:

    I agree DPF but when I read this “The reality is that eventually most applications to trim or fell get granted anyway – 98% is the figure I have read”, I wonder if John Key will see that the law is working as intended and therefore not bother to change…?

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  15. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Wow! Isn’t it amazing the ideological straitjackets that bubble up over simple and beautiful living treasures like trees!

    From absolute private property rights to tax destroys economic growth, all the while ignoring the real issue, the 2% mentioned by DF. There are trees so iconic and so precious that they should be protected. And others that, while not in the former category, still contribute to the environment we live in. The laws were enacted to protect us from those who only saw the $$$ to the exclusion of all else.

    In a community, the rights of individuals must be balanced against the welfare of the community. The alternative is anarchy. Private property rights are not absolute. There are lots of restrictions on us. A while ago I was warned by the noise police for operating a wood chipper on a public holiday…when else do we capitalists get a chance to do some good old fashioned bush clearing (in the middle of the city, of course)?

    You know, it wasn’t all that long ago when wives were considered the private property of men and were saleable commodities!

    However, all is not lost. Worthy trees are still able to be protected. Councils must be assisted by NGOs in listing trees requiring protection. Also, these days, there is more general awareness of the value of nature and many properties are developed around rather than over our green heritage.

    The only worthwhile initiative I can ever recall from a National government is the Bolger/Graham treaty settlement process which has now outgrown their rather unrealistically low expectations.

    The best we can do is minimise the damage and if it turns out that, as I hope, we have all moved on from slash and burn, maybe it won’t really change anything anyway.

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  16. redeye (633 comments) says:

    “There is no right of enjoyment of someone else’s property, and there should not be such a right as it makes one person the slave of another. ”

    Essentially I agree but…

    You’d be happy for the next door neighbour to build a nice purple and yellow monstrosity and keep his collection of rusted Fords in the front yard?

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  17. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    Luc, take a walk through socialist suburbs and then through National-voting ones. Report back on which have the most trees.

    If there are trees so demanding of protection let the Councils buy the land they stand on. Otherwise leave them to the good sense of owners.

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