Tree protections eased, trimming rules made simpler
Council has confirmed that only the most significant indigenous trees will be protected in urban areas of Kāpiti from 4 September 2015, and that property owners will have much more freedom to trim protected trees without the need for a resource consent.
Even when a resource consent is required, the cost of it will be zero, councillors decided.
The new rules represent a fundamental change in approach. Under the Urban Tree Variation to the Proposed District Plan (PDP), only 1,300 trees will be protected on about 400 properties, compared to over 10,600 protected under the PDP and about 14,000 in the Operative District Plan.
Protections on trees in ecological sites which are within urban areas remain in place, covering a further 9,000 (approx) trees.
The changes, which align with new Resource Management Act requirements to discontinue “blanket” rules protecting particular species of trees, are being publicly notified next week and will have immediate legal effect. The “blanket” rules will lapse on 4 September.
The variation will be open for public submissions for 40 working days – twice the legal minimum – and the subsequent hearing of these submissions will be incorporated into the hearings on the Proposed District Plan (PDP) from next April.
Mayor Ross Church said the protected trees would be listed by property address and all affected property owners would be contacted to make them aware of the changes.
“People need to be aware that the ‘urban’ trees now being protected by this variation will be large, old, established indigenous trees, remnants of the original forests in Kāpiti.
“These are genuinely ‘significant’ trees. We have reached this much more liberal approach after considerable feedback from people during our recent engagement on tree protection and trimming rules.
“This decision strikes the right balance. It ensures our most important indigenous trees remain protected but gives people much greater freedom in trimming these protected trees without the need for resource consent. Ensuring the trimming is done to arboricultural best practice ensures the health of the trees is preserved.
“The decision to remove any cost for resource consents is also recognition of the ‘public’ good’ of retaining our most significant old, established trees.”
In addition, staff will explore the possibility of having a package of non-regulatory measures including council providing people with advice on best practice management of trees and financial assistance with maintaining protected urban trees.
Council will also work in partnership with iwi on recognition of culturally-significant trees that require protection under the PDP.