Council to consult on protection of urban trees
A change to the Resource Management Act has triggered a process which requires the Council to change the way it describes trees protected under the Proposed District Plan (PDP).
The changes will be made through an Urban Tree Variation (UTV), which is a purely-technical mechanism to keep the status quo, protecting the trees already covered under the PDP.
What is changing is the way the PDP has to identify the trees being protected.
In the PDP, protected native urban trees are identified in the way accepted by the Environment Court, before the Government amended the RMA. For example, a particular species such as ngaio trees in a specified area of the district could be listed generally. No specific description was needed, nor did the specific property need to be identified.
For the last 15 years, the Kāpiti Coast District Plan has protected indigenous trees in urban areas that are more than 4 metres tall or more than 95 cms in girth.
Now, because the Government has changed the law, Council must identify individual trees or groups of trees and list which urban lot they are on in order to maintain the protection. Up to 10,000 trees have to be scheduled in the Variation.
The PDP also protects locally-indigenous vegetation within identified ecological sites in urban areas. A number of these include parts of urban lots and protected trees that have to be identified as well.
Council is therefore drafting a Variation to the PDP, putting the changes into practice and will be consulting on this in June and July.
The Variation must be notified by 4 September, otherwise urban trees will lose the protection they currently have under both the PDP and the Operative District Plan.
It will be advertised and open to all members of the public to make submissions.
During the consultation period, residents will be contacted by Council to alert them that field workers may be in their area doing the identification work on the trees. The field workers will wear clearly-identifiable clothing and carry ID so people know they are on official business.