Source: New Zealand Government –  RMA claims over kauri wrong

Opposition parties are playing politics in claiming that changes to the Resource Management Act have affected the protected status of a kauri tree in the Waitakere Ranges, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Claims that National’s changes to the RMA have affected the Auckland Council’s decision on this kauri tree are wrong. This tree was specified in the current district plan and in the proposed unitary plan, meaning it required a resource consent to alter or remove it. There is understandable controversy over the Council’s decision to grant consent for the trees removal but this discretion always existed,” Dr Smith says.

“The change National made in 2009 was to prohibit blanket tree protection rules that required consent for any tree to be trimmed or removed. The blanket rules, applied by only a few councils, resulted in thousands of unnecessary consents. This change did not affect this area of the Waitakere Ranges which has never had blanket tree protection rules.

“This is not a case of the law being wrong. National’s new law enables councils’ to protect areas of significant vegetation and valued trees provided they are specified. Tree decisions are very local and need to be taken at council level. National’s planned further changes to the RMA will not change councils’ powers to protect significant trees.”

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.