Environment Minister Amy Adams has leapt to the defence of an elderly couple being prosecuted for felling and trimming native trees, saying the case shows why the Resource Management Act needs reform.
“Many RMA rules around the country have slipped into nonsense territory,” Adams said after The Dominion Post reported on environmentalists Peter Standen, 77, and wife Diana, 74, of Otaki, being taken to court by Kapiti Coast District Council for felling and trimming seven trees they believed were rotten and dangerous.
“This couple has spent a lot of time caring for their environment and gone to the effort of getting an arborist,” Adams said.
“We are not talking about some yob with a chainsaw with a tree he did not like. They got a specialist saying they were dangerous… it appears so eminently sensible… the outcome seems ridiculous.
“Trees, indigenous or not, get old, diseased, die, can be dangerous. We are talking about a 70-year-old couple dealing with vegetation in their own backyard. Do we need a council to get so uppity about what seems like a very sensible reaction?”
She supported the right of councils to identify and protect significant trees but “blanket prohibition on every piece of vegetation of a certain sort with no allowances, exceptions, or recognition that people have the fundamental right to deal with their own property in a certain way is getting a bit crazy”.
More than a bit. Thankfully the law has now changed so such rules will be gone by September 2015. But that law change was opposed vigorously by Labour and Greens. They think property owners should have no rights over the trees on their property – that basically Councils can effectively take control of every tree in an area.