The long-delayed final stage of forest clearance on Auckland Council land near Leigh should be completed by the end of this year, following regulatory and weather-related delays, a Rodney Local Board meeting heard last month.
Council property arm Panuku Development said the harvest of remaining pine trees on 11 hectares between Ti Point and Leigh Roads had been held up due to the contractor having to meet new environmental requirements for the logging industry. However, it turned out that was unnecessary, according to senior engagement advisor Carlos Rahman.
“The harvest was waiting on the harvester getting consents from Auckland Council for new National Environmental Standards,” he said. “That has now been resolved. They don’t need to have that, so they will be completing by the end of 2019.”
Contractor Woodbank began cutting the trees in July 2017 and were due to finish the job by late summer last year. However, prolonged heavy rain scuppered those plans and it was then expected to be finished over the 2018-19 summer. Because of the regulatory issue, and since contractors needed four to six weeks of dry weather to complete the harvest, the anticipated date for completion had now been pushed back to the end of this year, Mr Rahman said.
Board chair Beth Houlbrooke asked who was managing the site in the meantime, as she had received complaints about wilding pines, climbing asparagus and pampas grass spreading over the partially cleared site.
“That’s through Panuku and contractors. I can take that back and prepare a response for the Board,” Mr Rahman said.
He added that once the tree cutting was finally finished, Panuku was confident the ex-landfill and quarry site wouldn’t be replanted.
“The site is likely to be retained by Council because there is some contamination there. I don’t think it has development potential,” he told members.
The Board voted to request future updates on the income expected from the tree harvest and future plans for the forestry land from Panuku.
The land was planted with pine trees more than 25 years ago and had originally been due to be harvested in 2013. However, that was postponed following the discovery of kauri snails, a protected species, some 50 snails and 22 eggs were subsequently discovered and relocated to Auckland Zoo.