The Herald reports:
The Environment Court has refused an Auckland man’s application to remove a huge tree from his heritage property Valhalla because of a legal technicality – despite it presenting an “undeniable presence of risk to human life”, according to a judge.
The tree has caused thousands of dollars of damage, including branches spearing through the home’s roof during a storm, narrowly missing people inside.
Auckland Council last night seemingly contradicted the ruling, saying it would not prosecute if the tree was removed because of the risk it posed.
The Norfolk pine, on James Gilderdale’s $1.1 million Heritage NZ-listed property in Woodward Rd, Mt Albert is protected because it is listed as a notable tree on the district plan and one of a neighbouring pair, each estimated to be 39m tall.
It is good the Council are saying they won’t prosecute, but it is wrong that he even has to go to court to get permission to remove the tree. The law should allow a home owner to remove a tree which poses a danger to human life.
In 2015, a branch estimated to weigh 80kg was blown down and missed hitting the applicant by only 2m. “The insurers have understandably threatened to review the availability of cover.”
So he has been almost killed by the tree, and risks losing insurance for the house – yet still can not legally fell the tree. Ridiculous.
UPDATE: The tree is being felled. The poor owner has been trying since 2014 to get permission!