A statement on the Great North Road pohutukawa trees has been issued by Auckland Transport's Chief Development officer, Greg Edmonds:
Auckland Transport would not have supported the application to remove six Pohutukawa trees from Great North Road, if there had been any other viable option, but all engineering experts agreed that there was not.
Having submitted the matter to a commissioner we have no comment to make on the commissioner’s decision other than to say appropriate democratic process was followed.
The proposed works will help the entire Waterview, State Highway 16, State Highway 20 complex operate to its full potential, which will also help reduce Auckland’s congestion. This is part of a one network approach to providing sustainable transport networks and options in Auckland.
We regret that the trees will be lost but a major benefit is that they will make way for cycle lanes to the motorway overbridge and for an extended bus lane and bus priority measures in Great North Road.
Making travel by cycle and bus more efficient and convenient is consistent with Auckland Transport’s drive to encourage the use of public transport. This will bring long-term environmental benefits as more people choose alternative modes of transport, to the car.
NZTA will replace the trees with Pohutukawa planted on adjoining land. AT will also ask the logging contractor to make the wood available for charitable purposes.
The next steps are for our Group Manager Property to review the Commissioners formal recommendations (this will be done towards the end of January) and, if in agreement, then request Auckland Council to issue a Consent under the RMA. Once this is done, the 12 Submitter’s to the hearing will be advised by Auckland Council that they have 15 days to appeal the decision. The decision can only be appealed by an original submitter.
In the event an appeal is received, then this will ultimately be heard by the Environment Court and could take several months to conclude.
In the event that no appeal is received then, at the end of the 15 days, Auckland Council will be able to issue the consent for removal of the trees.
For clarity nothing can happen in regards to tree removal until the process above has concluded.