The alleged destruction of mature stands of kanuka/manuka and puriri by a developer at Waiwera is now before the Environment Court.
The brakes have been put on a proposed 145-lot residential development in the Waiwera township after the developer was found to have undertaken extensive earthworks and vegetation clearing in breach of the Resource Management Act.
Judge Smith heard the matter in the Environment Court, in May, when Auckland Council sought enforcement orders against Augustine Lau, Qiufen Lu and Lucky Wu Ltd.
The Court saw the actions of Mr Lau and Lucky Wu, on the land owned by Qiufen Lu, as being “extremely serious and dangerous”.
Council is seeking remediation to mitigate the adverse effects of unlawful earthworks and vegetation removal, including an ecological restoration plan, replanting, and maintenance of erosion and sediment measures.
The Court has called for urgent geotechnical, site stability, slippage and erosion reports, plus remediation plans, before considering final orders for the rehabilitation of the site are considered.
A Council spokesperson says the property owner will provide the remediation plan for 18 Weranui Road, while Council will develop the remediation plan for 32 Weranui Road. Both plans must be submitted by the end of next month with all costs to be borne by Lucky Wu and Mr Lau.
Additionally, prosecution in relation to the unconsented removal and damage of protected native trees on the 2.6 hectare property at 18 Weranui Road is ongoing. The defendant has elected trial by jury, with a date for the trial yet to be determined.
Although the 6.6 hectare property at 32 Weranui was zoned for high intensity residential activity under the Rodney District Plan, the Court noted that any level of activity on the sensitive coastal site would remain Restricted Discretionary.
As such, questions of indigenous vegetation, site slope and stability, and whether infrastructural services such as wastewater reticulation, water and power could be supplied, would all be factors, which would affect the level of activity that could occur on this site.
Responding to Mr Lau’s claim that he was entitled to develop the land to 275m lots, the Court said that, “Quite simply, we find the plan to be misleading and completely inappropriate. It does not recognise the slope of the land; the difficulty with supplying any basic services on the land given the slope and instability; and the need to protect water courses, indigenous vegetation and the like. Mr Lau’s assertion that he was entitled to develop to 275m is clearly not correct.”
Work started on the heavily wooded property, near the Waiwera Scenic Reserve, in March 2013 without resource consent.
“That any responsible contractor would have undertaken this work is difficult to comprehend,” the Court stated.