Environment Court – Tree Declaration

Campbell Brown Planning has recently provided assistance in relation to Environment Court proceedings that were brought by Auckland Council to clarify the meaning of new legislation. Philip Brown provided a planning affidavit in relation to the policies and tree protection rules of the Waitakere District Plan.

The RMA Amendment Act 2009 provides that on 1 January 2012, an existing rule in a district plan that prohibits or restricts the felling, damaging, or removal of any tree, or group of trees, in an urban environment is revoked unless the rule relates to a tree or group of trees specifically identified in a plan.

The recent decision by the Environment Court now makes it clear that trees protected under specific tree protection rules in the North Shore District Plan and the Waitakere City District Plan will continue to be protected after 1 January 2012.

This means that trees in urban Titirangi protected under the vegetation alteration rules of the Waitakere District Plan, for example, will continue to be protected.

This is a sensible and pragmatic approach to the amendments made to the RMA in 2009 as it will avoid substantial costs of going through a Plan Change process to redefine ‘groups of trees’ that are already listed in plans.

A copy of the decision is available here