KCDC still pursuing case against Otaki native tree fellers
By Alan Tristram
Kāpiti Coast District Council is proceeding with a prosecution against the contractor who is charged with felling or modifying 72 native trees on two Ōtaki properties last August.
Council has announced it is proposing to withdraw charges against one of the property owners, the Standens, based on new information that has come to hand. However it says the prosecution against Monkeyman Tree Services will proceed.
The matter will be heard in the Levin District Court on Tuesday (8 April). The company is facing charges under the Resource Management Act for modifying naturally-occurring indigenous vegetation in breach of the Council’s District Plan.
Acting Chief Executive Tamsin Evans says Council’s decision to prosecute the three parties, including the Standen’s neighbours, the McLeavey’s who have pleaded guilty, was based on sound legal advice, including an opinion from the Crown Law Office. She says the decision to withdraw the charges against the Standens was made when new information came to light yesterday.
“That information was the corroboration by the contractor that Mr and Mrs Standen had referred him to a Council brochure about the rules and obligations relating to native trees.
“On that basis we made the decision that it was in the public interest to withdraw the charges against the Standens. It is very unfortunate this information didn’t come to light before now.”
Ms Evans says under the Solicitor General’s Prosecution Guidelines, Council has an obligation to keep any charges under review.
“The Guidelines require that once charges have been filed and before trial, the prosecuting agency should review the charges to ensure those charges are robust or whether on the basis of the evidence available the charges need to be amended, further charges added, or the charges withdrawn.”