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Health and safety concerns spell demise of mature trees

14 Mar 2017 10:16 am

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At least three of these liquidambar trees at the front of Whangaparaoa School are likely to be felled.
A group of mature liquidambar trees at Whangaparaoa School are likely to be felled, due to health and safety concerns.

Resource consent to fell five of the trees was sought from Auckland Council in 2015, but after the tree protection rules were changed, consent was no longer needed.

A report last year by arborist Andrew Barrell, commissioned by the school, says that “whilst the trees appear to be healthy with vigorous leaf cover, the framework holding the limbs aloft is dysfunctional to the extent that failure of limbs and stems is easily foreseeable and has already happened in many cases”.

It notes that limbs have fallen off the trees during storms but makes no mention of damage or injuries, although it says there have been near misses.

The report goes on to say that recent amendments to health and safety legislation are an important factor to be considered when deciding the trees’ fate, despite their visual value to the nearby Ladies Mile streetscape. The trees, which range in height from 12m–16m are deciduous and are among the few species that provide spectacular autumn colours on the Hibiscus Coast.

“Due to the size and visual footprint occupied by these trees it could be argued that their removal could have an adverse impact on amenity values. This argument, in my opinion, becomes entirely redundant in the face of legal obligations under the health and safety legislation. That said, it is not unreasonable to expect some kind of replacement planting to be undertaken.”

Principal Kevin Cronin says that falling limbs pose a safety risk, especially in the case of three of the trees, which is why they will be felled.

The school is working with contractors to identify the best time for removal of the trees.

The arborist’s report suggested at least five replacement trees should be planted and Mr Cronin says that new landscaping is part of the plan.

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