Unable to cut down his own dangerous tree!

June 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Every time the wind blows Craig Newth and his family worry what will happen to a 25 metre gum tree that towers over their house.

The Beach Haven, Auckland, resident says he doesn’t understand why the council won’t allow it to be removed.

Because they’re the Tree Police. Despite Parliament passing several laws, they regard all as belonging to them!

Newth says gum trees, also known as widow makers, are notorious for dropping limbs.

A council arborist, Vector worker and private arborist have all on separate occasions said the branches from the tree could injure someone and it should be removed, he says.

But when Newth approached the council they told him resource consent was needed and then declined it on more than one occasion.

You should not need resource consent to chop down your own tree, especially when it is a danger.

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62 Responses to “Unable to cut down his own dangerous tree!”

  1. duggledog (1,333 comments) says:

    Helen Clarke gave local bodies the licence to do pretty much whatever they please with the Local Govt Act, these bloody commissars need to be stopped and I had hoped National would have been able to do something about this. But it all just carries on and on and on.

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  2. Akaroa (535 comments) says:

    That’ll be Auckland Council we’re talking about then?

    Hmmm! Thought so!

    Since moving to Central Auckland five years ago – from forward-looking, go-ahead Wellington – I’ve lost count of the instances of blind stupidity attributable to Auckland Council in its decision and policy making that have made the news.

    It starts at the top and seems to permeate all levels of Council decision making and policy.

    This Luddish attitude to ‘dangerous tree conservation(!!)’ doesn’t surprise me one bit!!

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  3. OneTrack (2,574 comments) says:

    Len’s fiefdom in action again.

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  4. Manolo (13,326 comments) says:

    Crazy legislation introduced by socialist Labour and left untouched by pinko National. Madness, total madness.

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  5. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Lecher Len will visit the spot in his ratepayers’ provided personal runabout . . . what is this costing? Aucklanders had the mongrel and his disgusting council on the ropes, and appear to have thrown in the towel. You get what you deserve!

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  6. Mark Unsworth (40 comments) says:

    Don’t totally agree with you David .The trees ,especially if they have been around for decades are really part of the neighbourhood ,not just the current owner of that piece of land .Its very easy to argue that they are a vital part of what makes a nice place to live.So I support sensible rules on trees with the Council having sensible policies.However,if a tree is in a dangerous position then common sense needs to apply .The Kapiti situation recently was an example of petty minded local bureaucrats who get carried away with their own power and the judge rightly slammed them

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  7. J Bloggs (158 comments) says:

    Akaroa: Specifically it’s the North Shore – There was a time when the chief arborist at the NSCC was also an active member of the Tree Council and Forest and Bird, and pretty much any application to remove a tree ended up being required to be notified, and one or both organsiations would subsequently submit in opposition to the application, requiring hearings (at the applicants expense).

    Having said all that, the rules were relaxed back in Jan 2013, and the only reason he should be needing to get resource consent is if the tree is scheduled on the council register. If it is, then while he may not be able to cut it down, he can certianly have it pruned – and he can get the council to stump up half the costs to do so as well:

    http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/newseventsculture/communityfundingsupport/grantsfunding/environmentheritage/Pages/northshoreschedulednotabletrees.aspx

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  8. thePeoplesFlag (170 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  9. Dave_1924 (90 comments) says:

    A gum tree? So a non-native…. So why can’t he cut it down on if its on his property? Why is this anything to do with the council?

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  10. J Bloggs (158 comments) says:

    TPF: It was actually in the local paper – the North Shore Times Advertiser, not the Herald :)

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  11. Mobile Michael (410 comments) says:

    The RMA has a clause that allows emergency action to be taken and consent granted retrospectively. He should have cut the tree down, then applied for consent using the arborists opinion as justification. Although, he’d be entering into a pointless legal fight with council.

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  12. Elaycee (4,289 comments) says:

    @TPF: Stop trying so hard to be a moron – looks like you’ve already reached the required ‘standard’….

    Yup… the guy appears to be involved in sales of commercial office space – so what? Why should his occupation preclude him from venting his frustration at an inept Auckland Council that doesn’t want him to chop down a dangerous tree on his own property?

    And if you really believe the Hoorald writes ‘right wing beat up’ stories, then you’ll love this bridge I have for sale.

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  13. itstricky (1,536 comments) says:

    This has some interesting parallels with the long haired lout. I mean, here it’s all up in arms, challenge the status quo, what silly rules etc whilst there it’s buddy, man up and move to a different school if you don’t like the rules. The rules are the rules, surely?

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  14. Salacious Crumb (31 comments) says:

    Would ACC legislation prevent him from suing the council if anyone were to be injured from a branch falling from this tree?

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  15. ciaron (1,314 comments) says:

    IT’STRICKY:

    The lad’s long hair poses a significantly lower life risk, than a big old tree that may drop a sizeable branch in the next zephyr…

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  16. Colville (2,059 comments) says:

    A 12 mm bit in a battery drill and some Tordon then in a few months it will be a dead tree and will have to be removed!

    :-)

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  17. Colville (2,059 comments) says:

    Will the guys house insurance deny a claim (when it falls on his or house) because the tree was obviously unsafe and he didnt take reasonable steps to make it safe?

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  18. alex Masterley (1,490 comments) says:

    I have a titoki tree on the boundary of my property.
    It spreads over the adjacent footpath. The council asked me to cut it back but I pointed out it was a native over restricted height so that request was quietly withdrawn.

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  19. slijmbal (1,210 comments) says:

    Mobile Michael has it correctly – if it’s dangerous you just trim/chop down as required – also live on the shore and had to do that as I have the misfortune to have a property in bush on our land that blends into a reserve, also bush.

    We’ve been told we’re in a place of special significance in the latest plan but unable to find out why from the council. Must be all the rats and possums and the norfolk pine on council land. There are perhaps a couple of Kauri trees as the rest were logged ages ago the vast majority of the bush is fast growing natives predominantly tea trees.

    This is a legacy from the shore council who, as an example, brilliantly added so much protection to pohutukawa trees at one point that they reduced the population enormously as owners chopped loads down to protect themselves from the council before the rules applied.

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  20. Odakyu-sen (439 comments) says:

    Lousy left-wing central government that does nothing to rein in local council uber-controlling.

    Just wait till National get back into power later this year! That’ll show them….

    ….Oh, wait a minute…

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  21. UglyTruth (3,942 comments) says:

    It comes down to what kind of property it is; real property or personal property (aka real estate). The council works on the presumption that it is personal property, but if that isn’t the case then Newth should never have even asked for consent from the council in the first place.

    District councils make exactly the same assumptions as the state does: real property is treated as territory and the natural rights of ordinary people are ignored. You see this every time some muppet speaks of the public being “allowed the right” to do something.

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  22. J Bloggs (158 comments) says:

    Odakyu-sen: The Govt. (along with a legal challenge from the Property Council, when the Auckland Council tried an end run around the law changes) did do something about it. And as long as a tree on your land isn’t on the council schedule, you can do what you like with it. It seems that this particular tree may be on the schedule, which requires going through the consent process.

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  23. Colville (2,059 comments) says:

    Odakyu-sen.
    I am sure the Nats love having looney Len up there just so people have an idea of how bad the Left can be… the Nats probably even wrote half of the silly rules for ACC and told Len that they were great ideas :-)

    Lecher Len and Cun*liffe are both great National assets!

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  24. twofish (74 comments) says:

    How is this guy’s insurance?
    If the entire country is now aware of a danger to his property [and maybe life] is his insurance void for him having a known existing hazard and not acting on it.

    So then where to is the Auckland Council’s position – Will they fully compensate the property owner for any financial, health or mental consequences of their ruling?

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  25. kowtow (7,583 comments) says:

    If it’s on your property you own it.It’s yours to do what you want with,native ,”significant” or otherwise.

    Far too much interference by gummint.It has to stop.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/editorials/9750016/Editorial-Rules-on-trees-are-confusing

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  26. OneTrack (2,574 comments) says:

    We need to wait until there are bodies before doing anything.

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  27. Lance (2,439 comments) says:

    Seriously, anyone thinking this is a beat up has no doubt never actually had to deal with the council, specifically Auckland.
    I had only heard stories of how bad they were until some retired old fart over the back fence, with nothing better to do than hassle the council decided the flooding of his driveway in heavy rain was due to our drains somehow. It wasn’t but that is another story.
    The fucking mindless horror story that resulted with the council would be unbelievable if it were a work of fiction. I won’t go into it as it is long and involved but I seriously was dumbfounding how FUCKING STUPID some officials could be.
    Then there is applying to but a simple, pumped solar hot water panel on your roof, it takes 120 pages of details drawings, plans and specifications. It has to be fully plumbing inspected as well etc. 120 pages!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then they queried aspects they clearly had no understanding of. Fuckwits!!!!

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  28. jackinabox (552 comments) says:

    It’s a laugh innit?

    When neighbours fall out over trees and stuff. Take my neighbour for instance, he won’t cut down a very fally over at anytime type of tree that hangs dangerously over his house threatening to kill his entire family because I cut down the same type of trees which were on my side of the boundary. The bloke that cut down my trees offered to whack his tree at the same time but he declined. He’s a nut, he thinks he’s teaching me a lesson or something by endangering his families lives. I don’t give a fuck, his dangerous tree doesn’t threaten or annoy me. lol.

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  29. Colville (2,059 comments) says:

    Ok I read the Stuff article.
    He applied twice to have it removed and was declined twice because of lack of info in the application.
    He needs to provide a geotech report if he wishes to re apply.
    He has already supplies specialist arborist reports.

    Fuck me what does all that shit cost? $10 K ?

    and they you need a crane etc to take it down. Expensive firewood. Opps you probably need another permit for the fire.

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  30. Goldsmith (21 comments) says:

    Why is Labour being blamed, when National has had 2 terms in power and hasnt had the balls to do anything about it?

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  31. Colville (2,059 comments) says:

    kowtow.
    I disagree.
    You should not be allowed to buy a large block of native bush and just whack it over.

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  32. G152 (141 comments) says:

    Inform the Council often by letter and Email that if the tree falls and damages property they will find themselves in court.
    Any people hurt or killed by the tree will be referred to the Police as a homicide

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  33. hj (6,341 comments) says:

    George Monbiot

    Planning laws inhibit prosperity. That’s what we’re told by almost everyone. Those long and tortuous negotiations over what should be built where are a brake on progress. All the major parties and most of the media believe that we would be better off with less regulation, less discussion and more speed. Try telling that to the people of Spain and Ireland.

    http://www.monbiot.com/2014/06/23/towering-imbroglio/

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  34. Mark (1,359 comments) says:

    If it were a significant native tree such as a large Kauri, rimu etc perhaps there may be an argument for protection but a gum tree FFS. Noxious weeds from across the ditch that are only useful as firewood.

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  35. kowtow (7,583 comments) says:

    hj

    The problem in Spain and Ireland was rampant corruption,corruption hiding behind planning laws and local government.

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  36. peterwn (3,144 comments) says:

    IMO the owner should do two things:
    1. Ask the Council CEO for an emergency dispensation to remove the tree – the RMA allows this (usually to help deal with natural disasters).

    2. If the CEO declines – give notice to the Council that it will be removed under the law of ‘necessity’ unless the council commences legal action to stop this.

    The owner should in both cases cite the recent Kew Gardens incident where a Kiwi woman was killed by a falling branch. Incidentally in this case the Coroner’s jury a verdict of ‘accidental death’ but I suspect if someone was killed by a branch from the tree in question, the coroner would be very scathing.

    This at the very least would put the onus fairly and squarely on the Council if there was a fatality or serious accident.

    If I was in the owner’s shoes I probably would then cut it down and defend any prosecution on the grounds of ‘necessity’. Trouble is that such cases are heard by a judge with an ‘environment court’ endorsement and they would be more likely to convict and ramp up the penalty than an ordinary judge.

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  37. kowtow (7,583 comments) says:

    One track

    Even when there is a death they’ll delay again!

    http://www.odt.co.nz/your-town/queenstown/95027/tree-not-worth-a-human-life-coroner-states

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  38. UglyTruth (3,942 comments) says:

    If I was in the owner’s shoes I probably would then cut it down and defend any prosecution on the grounds of ‘necessity’.

    Necessity has no law.

    If I were the owner I would be asking myself if I had a real obligation to obey they council. If none existed then I would notify them that the presence of agents and employees of the council on the property was trespass. If agents are trespassed then they can’t lawfully serve the notice of civil process necessary for formal charges.

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  39. UglyTruth (3,942 comments) says:

    You should not be allowed to buy a large block of native bush and just whack it over.

    Who sets the limits of legitimate public interest in private property?

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  40. Rocco (8 comments) says:

    The comments from the Vector worker are useful :-

    Section 169 (2) of the Electricity Act provides for “controlling the existence and location of the whole or any part of any tree or vegetation that is in the vicinity of, or may affect, any works or electrical installation, including (without limitation)—

    (i) requiring the removal of the whole or any part of any tree or vegetation”

    Have a talk with Vector and have their landowner liaison people issue a letter stating they require the tree to be removed.

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  41. Judith (7,474 comments) says:

    You should not need resource consent to chop down your own tree, especially when it is a danger.

    If you are unable to cut down the tree, I wonder if you are able to sue the council for any damage caused by it falling down, or would that be considered an ‘act of God’?

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  42. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    Mark Unsworth- “The trees ,especially if they have been around for decades are really part of the neighbourhood ,not just the current owner of that piece of land”

    Here’s the root of the problem. People who think like Nth Koreans.

    Wonder if the Neo-Communist Mr. Unsworth works for the council. He’s got the anti-property rights attitude that fits.

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  43. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    Just cut the thing down and tell the council to go to hell. But document the reasons why carefully especially the incidents where a hazard has been caused.

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  44. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    Why on EARTH do the council think a geotechnical report is required?

    He wants to cut down a freaking TREE, not carry out earthworks.

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  45. Maggy Wassilieff (242 comments) says:

    There’s a simole rule: right tree for right place. A 25-30m high eucalypt within 30m of a dwelling is not in the right place.
    Unfortunately many unwise planting decisions have been made by folks with little knowledge of the growth patterns of mature trees.

    Councils should be doing all they can to get rid of dangerously sited trees. If they want to protect a tree, then they shouldn’t give permission for anyone to build close to the tree.

    Last year one of our 50+ year old pohutukawas ended up in the 2nd floor bedroom of a neighbour during a severe winter storm. They had been planted as a row of boundary trees and served that purpose well for decades. But as they grew larger and older the weight of the branches and foliage in their canopy proved too much when gale-force winds tore through Cook Strait.

    We decided to shift from windy Wellington. The first property we looked at in the Provinces was surrounded by massive Eucalypts…. not a goer as far as I was concerned. The 2nd property we looked at we bought. I’ve spent the last few months cutting down overhanging trees and branches of native and exotic alike. The husband looks wistful as another tree ends up on the mulcher pile. Right tree, right place, I mutter.

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  46. mikemikemikemike (301 comments) says:

    This guy is in real estate, don’t for a second think he doesn’t want this removed for the views.
    Any tree anywhere has the potential to lose a branch and injure someone…..lets ban trees!

    He knew the tree was there when he bought the place, if he didn’t think it was safe he possibly should not have bought it. It’s like buying a house next to a race car track and then calling noise control because you don’t like the noise.

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  47. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    Mark at 8.41 on gum trees:

    …Noxious weeds from across the ditch that are only useful as firewood.,,

    I agree on property owners’ rights to fell and plant trees as they see fit. But the beauty of a tree is in the eye of the beholder. Gums’ trunks can look great, and they have a pleasant scent. They are a useful commercial species also, providing the material for higher grade paper than the pulp from our dominant Pinus radiata. I thought gum trees, as a harder wood, were traditionally used for farm gates, and they fetch a fairly high price as firewood.

    I’m not accusing you of this, Mark, but it’s stupid and exceedingly PC to dislike any tree that isn’t native to NZ. The world is full of great trees, and we have the pick of them. The flowering trees of Japan and China, the oaks and linden of Europe, are superb in the landscape.

    It’s been pathetic in Christchurch to have the natives-only fanatics out to replace the weeping willows on the Avon with flaxes and native trees, particularly given the locals’ belief that the willows originate in stems taken from Napoleon’s original grave site on St Helena by Akaroa-bound French and German settlers. Such anti-exotic tree ignorance is rife in NZ at present. There’s nothing wrong with flax here and there and as shelter in far-south farms, but do we want the whole country bland with flax and native trees?

    Anyway, how unique are NZ’s native trees? Doesn’t Chile have a tree almost identical to our southern beech tree?

    Isn’t manuka also native to southern Australia as the tea tree?

    Isn’t kauri native to both NZ and Australia?

    And Mark: to hell with your pussy-willow-weak Pinus radiata!

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  48. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    More for Mark (8.41).

    If you’re the forest investor I’m thinking of, you probably know this, Mark, but in case you’re not that person:

    http://www.nzffa.org.nz/special-interest-groups/eucalypt-action-group/

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  49. goldnkiwi (985 comments) says:

    Maggy Wassilieff (207 comments) says:

    June 25th, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Exactly, re plantings, gum trees in particular but I have had to remove at great expense many trees planted inconsiderately as well as having power companies come in to remove trees that compromise their lines, the landowner still has to clean up the mess, another mistake is garden centres that suggest a maximum height on their tree tags, the trees do not stop growing at ’2 metres’ etc.

    As for the landmark trees, my grandparents lived at the top of St Heliers Bay Road and had a huge macrocarpa that could be seen from every where, it had to be removed before any development could take place on a neighbouring section that the family also owned, my god what a drama. One should not have to consider the poisoning route, citizens are turned feral by some of these regulations lol.

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  50. Kimble (4,375 comments) says:

    BUT IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A TREE!!!!!!

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  51. BlairM (2,286 comments) says:

    This is why you never ask permission in the first place and just chop the bloody thing down. The likelihood that someone will complain the the Council about it is pretty low.

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  52. thedavincimode (6,526 comments) says:

    The trees ,especially if they have been around for decades are really part of the neighbourhood ,not just the current owner of that piece of land

    They might well be part of the neighbourhood, but they are the private property of the owner of the land. But given you don’t seem to accept the notion of private property rights, then consider the fact that the corollary of such rules is the discouragement of new planting that would also become part of your neighbourhood. You want all the benefits but none of the responsibility.

    My understanding was that government put an end to this malarkey with effect from January last year. However, I recall reading something to the effect that Len’s minions prosecuted someone who did chop a tree down – legally in compliance with that new legislation – on the basis that len’s district plan somehow over ruled central government’s specific legislation. I recall reading that len lost that case so that given it is a poxy exotic, it ought to be able to be felled as of right. If my recollection is correct, then this is just low rent bully boy tactics ie normal transmission and yet another reason to get rid of that slimey dodgy little prick.

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  53. Elaycee (4,289 comments) says:

    mikemikemikemike: This guy is in real estate, don’t for a second think he doesn’t want this removed for the views.

    Did you miss the bit that said he works in commercial real estate? He sells and leases…. offices!.

    His occupation is totally irrelevant.

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  54. Left Right and Centre (2,819 comments) says:

    The likelihood that someone will complain the the Council about it is pretty low.

    Maybe so. Even if there is no follow-on – you’d be thinking there could be – you’d be left with that nagging minor uneasiness about the whole business of it. And in any case – it falls into that wonderful category known as ‘why should I bloody have to, hmmm ?’.

    What I don’t get is that the tree must’ve been there when they bought the place – so did it occur to them that it might be a problem and better to give the place a miss and avoid the hassle ? Did it gain protected status after property was purchased ?

    Would be interesting to know when all of the tree protecting started – there’s something to try to research.

    Unbelievable council incompetence. Some of those bureaucratic paper shufflers don’t have an ounce of common sense.

    From Stuff comments. It’s all computers – no paper now. New names are needed.

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  55. Alan Wilkinson (1,812 comments) says:

    Never take any notice of bureaucrats – it only encourages them.

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  56. trout (899 comments) says:

    A significant case in NSW where a home owner was refused permission by the Council to remove a dangerous tree. Subsequently the tree fell on the house and killed the occupant. Cost the Council $500k +.
    http://www.vrlaw.com.au/cases/pdfs/200406241706390.Timbs%20judgment.PDF

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  57. J Bloggs (158 comments) says:

    The likelihood that someone will complain the the Council about it is pretty low.

    Unfortunately, on the North Shore, the council arborists have been known to stop by properties which have had applications to remove trees, to check and see if just that sort of thing has been occurring.

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  58. Lance (2,439 comments) says:

    @J Bloggs
    That would be right
    We all know about the parking Nazi’s, it seems we have tree Nazi’s as well…. sigh

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  59. goldnkiwi (985 comments) says:

    Left Right and Centre (2,765 comments) says:

    June 25th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Trees as stated continue to grow, I am not sure if trees of interest are shown on a LIM. Councils probably have a catch all regulation regarding resource consents as they can not possibly have noted all trees on private property.

    As for checking up on applied for consent work, I have experienced that paranoia. I made a council query regarding a composting toilet for my bach, only to be told that to bore a hole for the pipe through the wall ffs needed a $400.00 odd permit, which I considered ridiculous.

    I am however the sort of person that they might think would go ahead and do it anyway, but I know they think that so I don’t lol.
    Which is very inhibiting as I hate being in the wrong.

    I always think of myself as Catholic at times like that,(my grandmother having been Catholic) always thinking that someone/thing is always watching and aware of ones every thought.

    That was one of her common sayings that you were always being watched (nuns probably in her case) and one about ‘sex rearing its ugly head’ yet again. ;) I think of her often on this blog ;)

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  60. Colville (2,059 comments) says:

    What is the fine for just chopping it down?

    probably less that it costs to apply for the bullshit permits!

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  61. J Bloggs (158 comments) says:

    Colville: Max. penalty for an individual under RMA $300K and/or up to 2 years in jail. Of course, that’s worst case and unlikely to be hit up that much for just one tree. But fines have certianly been dished out in the $15K-$50K range for tree related offences.

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  62. Mark (1,359 comments) says:

    Jack5 (4,491 comments) says:
    More for Mark (8.41).

    If you’re the forest investor I’m thinking of, you probably know this, Mark, but in case you’re not that person:

    http://www.nzffa.org.nz/special-interest-groups/eucalypt-action-group/

    If people want to plant eucalypts for investment good on them but in a city environment you are going to struggle to convince me that a gum tree is worthy of preservation.

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