The Kāpiti Coast District Council has conceded it didn’t need to involve police in a visit to the couple at the centre of a prosecution for cutting down native trees on their property at Otaki.
But Cr Gavin Welsh, chair of the Corporate Business Committee (left) , has defended the action of Council staff in seeking a prosecution against the two land owners and a contractor over the destruction of native trees on two properties.
Councillor Welsh says the Council is coming under increasing pressure to protect local environments and needs to act where appropriate.
But he says he concedes Council didn’t need to involve the police in a visit to the Standen’s property and it has written to apologise to the couple for any distress caused.
“I really feel for the people at the centre of this case but the decision to prosecute wasn’t taken lightly. Property owners have a responsibility to uphold the law and Council staff were just doing the job elected members have asked them to do.
Trees protected by Plan
“Trees are an important part of the Kāpiti Coast District’s ecology and naturally-occurring indigenous vegetation and heritage trees are protected by the District Plan. Property owners with native trees on their land need to safeguard that ecology and be aware that if they don’t there will be consequences.”
Cr Welsh says the destruction and severe pruning of trees on the Ōtaki properties was extensive, involving more than 70 trees.
“As it happens,” he says,”we have limited the prosecution to just seven trees so Council is not seeking anywhere near the penalties it could.
“This has been a difficult case for all concerned but we hope it will provide a deterrent to other property owners and seek to make people more aware of a need to treat the environment with respect.”