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Auckland Tree Rules update from the Auckland City Council

Auckland Tree Rules update from the Auckland City Council

Richard Tregoweth - Saturday, December 17, 2011

There were a number of Auckland City Council/arborist meetings conducted last week in an effort to clarify the situation regarding the new Auckland City Tree Rules effective January 1, 2012.

Below is an update on the simplifying and streamlining of the RMA (relative to Auckland) from city council representative Stephanie Fleming - but don't expect too much - it's still as complicated as ever!

Ms Fleming says: many of you have attended the briefings on the tree rules given by Auckland Council over the last week. Below is an outline of the information given at those briefings, as well as information on a new Environment Court ruling which came out this week regarding the 1800 trees proposed to be scheduled.

There are two processes occurring simultaneously:

  1. the Environment Court ruling on the RMA amendment Act 2009 (Basically, some tree rules are revoked but a lot are not - see below for further details).
  2. the Environment Court ruling given this week which gives legal effect (from 1 Jan 2012) to protection for the 1800 trees proposed to be scheduled.
The first issue is how the RMA Amendment 2009 affects tree rules in Auckland.

A number of you have asked for a quick guide as to what the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 and the Environment Court declaration will mean for the tree rules within the Auckland Council Operative District Plans.

Urban Environment and revoked tree rules

It is important to note that not all tree rules will be revoked on 1 January 2012 and the rules are only revoked for trees on sites that are considered part of the 'urban environment'.

Urban environment is defined below (as per the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009).

Urban Environment means an allotment no greater than 4000m2, [please note allotment includes cross-lease sites] and

(a) that is connected to a reticulated water supply system and a reticulated sewerage system; and
(b) on which a building is used for industrial or commercial purposes, or a dwelling house.

If a site does not meet all of these criteria, then any tree on that site will still be subject to the relevant general tree protection rules.

For instance, no sites on the Hauraki Gulf Islands are considered urban (due to a lack of reticulated water and/or sewerage) and therefore the current rules will not change.

Pruning and/or trimming

Trees that are not protected post-January 1, 2012 will have no restriction on pruning and/or trimming.

For all other trees, the status quo remains.

For example, the current permitted trimming exception in the Isthmus plan will still apply to trees in Residential 2b (i.e. they can be trimmed up to 30% by an arborist, provided it's done in accordance with accepted arboricultural practice and maintains the natural shape and

Revoked Rules

I have included a table which details the general tree protection rules that relate to each of the various Auckland Council District Plans and lists whether or not they will be revoked after January 1st 2012 as per the RMA changes.

If the rule is not revoked, then the current tree protection remains in place. For example, removal of trees greater than 6m (or 600mm girth) in the Residential 2b zone of the Isthmus District Plan will still require resource consent (CHECK BEFORE YOU CHOP!).

You'll find more relevant information on the NZ Arbor website.

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