I hereby give notice that an extraordinary meeting of the Waitematā Local Board will be held on:

 

Date:

Time:

Meeting Room:

Venue:

 

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

10.00am

Waitematā Local Board Office
Ground Floor
52 Swanson Street
Auckland

 

Waitematā Local Board

 

OPEN AGENDA

 

 

 

 

MEMBERSHIP

 

Chairperson

Richard Northey (ONZM)

 

Deputy Chairperson

Kerrin Leoni

 

Members

Adriana Avendaño Christie

 

 

Alexandra Bonham

 

 

Graeme Gunthorp

 

 

Julie  Sandilands

 

 

Sarah Trotman (ONZM)

 

 

(Quorum 4 members)

 

 

 

Liz Clemm

Democracy Advisor - Waitematā

 

20 February 2020

 

Contact Telephone: (09) 353 9654

Email: liz.clemm@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Website: www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

 

 


 

 


Waitematā Local Board

25 February 2020

 

 

ITEM   TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                         PAGE

1          Welcome                                                                                                                         5

2          Apologies                                                                                                                        5

3          Declaration of Interest                                                                                                   5

4          Leave of Absence                                                                                                          5

5          Acknowledgements                                                                                                       5

6          Petitions                                                                                                                          5

7          Deputations                                                                                                                    5

8          Public Forum                                                                                                                  5

9          Extraordinary Business                                                                                                5

10        Western Springs Park Pine Tree Removal                                                                  7  

11        Consideration of Extraordinary Items 

 

 


1          Welcome

 

 

2          Apologies

 

At the close of the agenda no apologies had been received.

 

 

3          Declaration of Interest

 

Members are reminded of the need to be vigilant to stand aside from decision making when a conflict arises between their role as a member and any private or other external interest they might have.

 

 

4          Leave of Absence

 

At the close of the agenda no requests for leave of absence had been received.

 

 

5          Acknowledgements

 

At the close of the agenda no requests for acknowledgements had been received.

 

 

6          Petitions

 

At the close of the agenda no requests to present petitions had been received.

 

 

7          Deputations

 

Standing Order 7.7 provides for deputations. Those applying for deputations are required to give seven working days notice of subject matter and applications are approved by the Chairperson of the Waitematā Local Board. This means that details relating to deputations can be included in the published agenda. Total speaking time per deputation is ten minutes or as resolved by the meeting.

 

At the close of the agenda no requests for deputations had been received.

 

 

8          Public Forum

 

A period of time (approximately 30 minutes) is set aside for members of the public to address the meeting on matters within its delegated authority. A maximum of 3 minutes per item is allowed, following which there may be questions from members.

 

At the close of the agenda no requests for public forum had been received.

 


 

 

9          Extraordinary Business

 

Section 46A(7) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (as amended) states:

 

“An item that is not on the agenda for a meeting may be dealt with at that meeting if-

 

(a)        The local authority by resolution so decides; and

 

(b)        The presiding member explains at the meeting, at a time when it is open to the public,-

 

(i)         The reason why the item is not on the agenda; and

 

(ii)        The reason why the discussion of the item cannot be delayed until a subsequent meeting.”

 

Section 46A(7A) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (as amended) states:

 

“Where an item is not on the agenda for a meeting,-

 

(a)        That item may be discussed at that meeting if-

 

(i)         That item is a minor matter relating to the general business of the local authority; and

 

(ii)        the presiding member explains at the beginning of the meeting, at a time when it is open to the public, that the item will be discussed at the meeting; but

 

(b)        no resolution, decision or recommendation may be made in respect of that item except to refer that item to a subsequent meeting of the local authority for further discussion.”


Waitematā Local Board

25 February 2020

 

 

Western Springs Park Pine Tree Removal

File No.: CP2020/01961

 

  

 

Te take mō te pūrongo

Purpose of the report

1.       To seek local board approval for the removal of a whole stand of pine trees at Western Springs Lakeside Park in accordance with the recently granted resource consent obtained for the purposes of delivering the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration’ project.

Whakarāpopototanga matua

Executive summary

2.       Since 2005 Council has been monitoring a stand of approximately 95 year old radiata pine trees in Western Springs Lakeside Park. The stand has reduced in size from approximately 700 pines in 1988 to approximately 177 live standing trees and approximately 23 dead standing trees as at 22 August 2019.

3.       In October 2015 the Waitematā Local Board approved the commencement of the ‘Western Springs Native Bush Restoration’ project with the aim of restoring the area to native bush and achieving the long-term aspiration of returning the area to native podocarp forest as described in the Western Springs Lakeside Park Plan 1995.

4.       The stand was closed to the public in April 2018 due to concerns for the safety of Council’s workers and to members of the public from falling trees. 

5.       In May 2019, following a publicly notified process, Council was granted resource consent to remove the remaining pine trees and restore the area with native vegetation.

6.       The decision to grant resource consent was appealed to the Environment Court.  The parties subsequently engaged in mediation. 

7.       The parties agreed to dispose of the appeal proceeding by way of consent and agreed that the resource consent should be granted with conditions.  On 27 September 2019, the Environment Court formalised the settlement and the resource consent was granted (refer Attachment A – 279(1)(b) of the Resource management Act 1991).

8.       Staff are seeking approval to commence work at the earliest opportunity to progress the restoration project.

9.       The estimated cost of the works is $760,000, including contingency. The local board’s budget allocation for the current financial year will be increased as required to meet the costs associated with the works.

 

Ngā tūtohunga

Recommendation/s

That the Waitematā Local Board:

a)      approve the removal of the whole stand of pine trees at Western Springs Lakeside Park in accordance with the approved resource consent to deliver the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project.

 


 

Horopaki

Context

10.     In the late 1920s, an extensive stand of radiata pine was planted on the northern slopes of Western Springs Lakeside Reserve.

11.     Over the past twenty years the stand has progressively reduced from approximately 700 trees in 1988, to approximately 177 live standing trees and approximately 23 dead standing trees as at 22 August 2019.

12.     Discussion on the future management of the trees and the restoration of the site to native bush has been progressing for a number of years. In 2015, the Waitematā Local Board resolved to approve the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project and the recommended work programme for pine management, to commence 3rd quarter financial year 2016 following community engagement. (Resolution number WTM/2015/161).

13.     Following the removal, a major planting and restoration effort will follow. Up to 15,000 plants will be planted (the exact number will depend on the amount of bare land available for planting) and the plants will be looked after in the years to follow. It is estimated the planting will take around three weeks. The maintenance will include control of pest plants and replacement of plants that do not survive.

14.     Planting will turn the site into a healthy podocarp-broadleaf forest dominated by kauri, puriri, taraire and tanekaha, along with a native understorey. The project’s native bush objectives also provide the chance to expand the track network through the area bordered by West View Rd, the zoo, stadium and Western Springs Lakeside Park.

15.     The reserve has been closed to the public since April 2018 due to concerns over the safety of reserve users from possible falling limbs or trees.

16.     In early June 2018, a resource consent application for the removal of the trees in order to proceed with the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project was submitted.

17.     The application was publicly notified, with hearings held in December 2018, and further submissions of information required in early 2019.

18.     Resource consent was granted in May 2019 and appealed to the Environment Court in June 2019.

19.     Court assisted mediation was undertaken over a number of months.  As part of the mediation between the parties to the appeal, on 22 August 2019, five expert arborists took part in an expert conference and agreed a Joint Expert Witness Statement which recorded agreement amongst the experts that:

·        tree numbers had reduced from an estimated 700 in 1988 to 177 standing live trees;

·        as tree density reduces to the extent that remaining live trees lose the protection afforded by other trees, the remaining trees have an increased likelihood of failure;

·        there are 5 types of targets that could potentially be affected by trees if they were to fall in an uncontrolled way:

o   10 dwellings/studios on West View Road;

o   Key infrastructure, including wastewater sewer, footbridge, powerlines and zoo fence;

o   Other structures, e.g. fences, walls, garden sheds, zoo buildings, stadium grandstand and stormwater pipes;

o   Anywhere people may be present including backyards, in the SEA (on and off track), stadium open space and depot area.

20.     The experts agreed that further information would be required before an informed decision could be made on the most appropriate way to proceed but they did not agree on the extent of the further assessment that would be required.

21.     They did agree that:

·        Some trees need to be removed;

·        Further assessment of many trees through the stand is required, in addition to further assessment of some of the 17 trees;

·        Natural attrition and tree failure are likely to continue within the stand; and

·        Canopy health of some trees is likely to deteriorate and the extent to which this occurs depends on the timeframe to be considered.

22.     As a result of the mediation, the parties agreed to dispose of the appeal by consent and agreed that the resource consent should be granted.  On 27 September 2019, the Environment Court formalised the settlement and ordered that the resource consent was granted. 

23.     The consent order issued by the Environment Court on 27 September 2019 granting consent to the whole stand removal has comprehensive conditions such as:

·    Establishing a Community Liaison Group - represented by all interested parties with two meetings already been held on the 5 November 2019 and 10 December 2019.

·    Project Website – specific project website for the project.

·    Updated Ecological Management Plan – prior to works commencing the consent holder shall provide the Council Team Leader Monitoring the updated plan for certification.

·    Updated Geotechnical Report – provided to the Council Team Leader Monitoring prior to commencing work

·    Independent Arborist and Ecologist – consent holder to employ suitably qualified independent ecologist and arborist to monitor project.

·    Project Management Contract – a contract has been awarded to undertake and deliver the required plans for the consent. Plans will be made available to the Community Liaison Group simultaneously when submitting to consent authority.

·    Conditions of consent provide for greater community input into the consent implementation process and are designed to achieve improved ecological outcomes.

24.     Staff are now seeking the board’s approval to implement the resource consent to deliver of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration project.

Tātaritanga me ngā tohutohu

Analysis and advice

25.     The objective of the decision is to give effect to the decision of the Local Board to deliver the Western Springs native Bush Restoration Project. We have identified three options open to the board below.  

Fully implement the consent

26.     Fully implementing the consent enables the council to proceed with the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project as planned without further delay and is therefore the recommended option. 

27.     This option also completely addresses the health and safety concerns outlined below. Given the information Council now holds on fall targets, Council would need to review the exclusion zones if a decision was taken not to fully implement the consent.

28.     As agreed in the Ecologists Joint Witness Statement of 28 August 2019, whole stand removal will provide greater certainty of ecological outcomes through management. Further, the adverse effects caused by whole stand removal will be short lived and the removal will allow rapid growth of native vegetation and faster transition to a native forest ecosystem. Against these advantages, the ecologists agreed that whole stand removal would cause a high magnitude of disturbance to and the sudden transition from pine forest to high light/open shrubland could have consequences to the fauna. It is noted that while the ecologists agreed on the substance of these advantages and disadvantages of whole stand removal, they differed on the weighting and significance of them.

29.     Implementing the consent and removing the trees will allow the site to be opened up to the public sooner.

30.     This option is fully consented and no further approvals are required.

31.     The costs of fully implementing the consent at this stage are known and can be appropriately budgeted for.

Do not implement the consent

32.     The council could choose not to implement the consent and take no further action at this stage.

33.     Not implementing the consent would not enable the delivery of the Western Springs Native Bush Project and may result in the area remaining closed to the public indefinitely.

34.     It would also result in the health and safety risks outlined below remaining for the foreseeable future. Given the information we now hold on fall targets, we would need to review the exclusion zones around the stand.

35.     As agreed in the Ecologists Joint Witness Statement of 28 August 2019, maintaining the status quo would allow a gradual change in structure, habitat and micro-climate which would be more akin to the natural forest dynamics.  It would also result in a more localised and lower magnitude of disturbance.  Further, the mature pines would continue to provide a habitat for birds and invertebrates.  Against these advantages, the ecologists agreed that management of at status quo would be more complex than whole stand removal.  It would also provide uncertainty of long-term ecological outcome.  They also noted that the pine trees suppress native canopy components.  Again, it should be noted that while the ecologists agreed on the substance of these advantages and disadvantages of whole stand removal, they differed on the weighting and significance of them.  

Further assessment and delayed partial implementation of the consent

36.     The Society for the Protection of Western Springs Forest Incorporated (the Society) has suggested that the local board consider delaying the implementation of the resource consent to undertake further assessment of trees in the stand. Further assessment may result in partial or staged implementation of the resource consent.

37.     This would delay delivery of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project.   

38.     The Society has estimated that further investigations will cost approximately $20,000-30,000. Council has not independently assessed the Society’s cost estimate. The costs of undertaking partial or staged implementation of the consent are also unknown.

39.     Due to ecological impacts the removal of the pines needs to take place between March to May in a given year. If further assessment is undertaken this window will likely be missed for 2020 and the reserve will remain closed to the public for the next 12 months.

40.     If this option was adopted, further advice would be needed to determine whether the conditions of consent can be complied with or whether a variation is required.

41.     This approach does not immediately alleviate the health and safety concerns outlined below.

 


 

Tauākī whakaaweawe āhuarangi

Climate impact statement

42.     Staff have sought advice on the potential climate impacts from Nick Goldwater, a principal ecologist at Wildland Consultants Ltd and council’s ecological expert in the mediation. Mr Goldwater has provided the following information:

43.     There is general consensus that the stand of pine trees is approximately 100 years old. Mature pines that aren’t growing anymore may store a lot of carbon, however, they continue to sequester only small amounts given that they only require carbon to maintain metabolic processes.

44.     Once the pines are felled, it is likely that most of the below ground biomass/roots decomposes into the soil carbon pool with not much atmospheric exchange (unless soils are disturbed). Above the ground (i.e. where logs are left to decay), it is likely that most carbon is actually cycled back to the atmosphere albeit very slowly through decomposition by insects and microbes and released via respiration. Some fraction of the carbon from felled logs may enter the soil carbon pool, although soil accumulation rates are natural low in most terrestrial forests. The felled logs will provide habitat and food resources for indigenous fauna, plants, lichens, and fungi.

45.     It is acknowledged that the indigenous plantings will sequester nominal amounts of carbon for the first decade or so. However, over the medium term of 30 – 40 years, the quantity of carbon stored in high productivity manuka/kanuka forests can exceed the quantity of carbon stored in harvested Pinus radiata forests (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Seeding the carbon storage opportunity in indigenous forests Comments on the draft Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008. 26 June 2008).

46.     The same report also suggests that if a landowner was to fence off one hectare of land having optimal soil fertility and rainfall, and allow it to revert to manuka / kanuka, the site could accumulate 200 tons of carbon in a 20-year period.

47.     Given that the proposed revegetation plantings at Western Springs will contain a high proportion of kanuka and other fast-growing species such as karamu (Coprosma robusta) and kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium), it is reasonable to assume that a similar amount of carbon will be sequestered at the site after 20 years, as long as post-planting maintenance is properly implemented.

Ngā whakaaweawe me ngā tirohanga a te rōpū Kaunihera

Council group impacts and views

48.     Staff from the Auckland Zoo, Auckland Stadiums, the Museum for Transport and Technology, and Auckland Councils Parks Sport and Recreation Department have been consulted and are supportive of the approved consent for the whole stand removal of the radiata pines.

Ngā whakaaweawe ā-rohe me ngā tirohanga a te poari ā-rohe

Local impacts and local board views

49.     The Western Springs Native Bush Restoration project was consulted on as part of the development of the 2015-2025 Long-term Plan, as a priority project of the local board.  Consultation was undertaken between 23 January 2015 to 16 March 2015 to inform the Long-term Plan 2015-2025.  In general, there was strong support for environmental projects, which included the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration project.  Of the 73 responses received, 89 percent supported the Western Springs proposal. 

50.     Council subsequently engaged with the community in relation to the project in the following ways:

·    Presentation of the project at Mana Whenua Parks Hui in November 2017

·    Discussions with MOTAT, Auckland Zoo and Western Springs Stadium in December 2017

·    Listing the project information listed on Our Auckland and Facebook, in April 2018

·    Delivering a letter outlining the project including frequently asked questions to all immediate neighbours, in April 2018.

 

51.     Mana Whenua, Auckland Zoo, Auckland Stadiums, and Museum for Transport and Technology were supportive of the removal of the trees.

52.     Further engagement with the public was undertaken through the publicly notified resource consent application in 2018 and 2019.  There were approximately 50 individual responses from the public on the resource consent application. The responses opposed the removal of the trees.

53.     The local board has heard the views of part of the community represented by the Society for Protection of Western Springs Forest Incorporated and Friends of Western Springs.  The preferred approach by those in opposition is for further assessment of the trees and if necessary, partial or staged removal.

54.     The potential for impacts on residents, particularly the potential impacts of noise and vibration during the removal works, have been recognised and addressed through the resource consent conditions.

55.     Mitigation measures are set out in the Construction Noise and Vibration Management Plan which forms part of the consented documentation.

Tauākī whakaaweawe Māori

Māori impact statement

56.     In November 2017 council presented the project at the Mana Whenua Parks.

57.     Representatives of six iwi attended the hui and supported the proposal to remove the pines.

58.     In June 2018, project information was sent to nine iwi who were not able to attend the hui.  Seven of the iwi responded that either they supported the removal proposal, or deferred to another iwi. Two iwi did not attend the hui or respond to the June 2018 letter.

59.     Attachment B provides a full schedule of responses.

Ngā ritenga ā-pūtea

Financial implications

60.     Table 1 below provides a summary of the estimated cost.

 

Table 1 – Estimated cost

Description

Estimated cost

Conditions of consent, consultant services, and community liaison person under condition 8 of the Resource Consent

$250,000

Arboricultural contractor

$370,000

Restoration – plants and planting

$80,000

Contingency

$60,000

 

61.     The proposed removal of the pine trees at Western Springs currently requires budget allocation of $760,000, including contingency.

62.     The local boards budget allocation for the current financial year will be increased as required to meet the costs associated with the works.

Ngā raru tūpono me ngā whakamaurutanga

Risks and mitigations

64.     Council has obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) to take all reasonable steps to prevent harm to the public.  If Council breaches its key duties under the HSWA it could be fined up to $3,000,000.

65.     In terms of the health and safety risk, council’s risk assessment completed in November 2019, took into account its obligations under the HSWA and followed the Corporate Standard 3 (Attachment C - CSTD3 Risk Assessment) protocols.

66.     In carrying out its risk assessment, Council had available to it expert reports over a number of years detailing the condition of the Western Springs’ pine trees.  Also before Council was the Joint Expert Witness Statement dated 22 August 2019.

67.     The Council has now also had the benefit of Craig Webb’s December 2019 report. This report has used a different methodology for assessing risk and has assessed the risk in relation to individual trees (based on a visual inspection) whereas Council has assessed the overall risk posed by all of the pine trees in the stand. This adopts a different methodology from that used by Council. Having reviewed the report, staff remain concerned about the ongoing health and safety risk arising from the pines.

68.     At present Council has taken action to isolate and mitigate the risk by closing the stand to members of the public, and controlling the access of workers accessing the park for monitoring and other work by requiring that workers obtain approval from Community Facilities before commencing work in the stand and requiring the use of personal protective equipment. However, despite imposing these controls the residual risk remains. It is noted that these controls do not prevent the risk of trees falling onto neighboring property or onto people in those properties.  If a decision is taken not to implement the consent and eliminate the risk then Council will need to reconsider whether it is appropriate to expand the exclusion zone. We also note that people have continued to climb over the barriers even while the track has been closed, therefore the risk of trees falling on people in the stand.

69.     The November 2019 Council risk assessment records that Council must first consider elimination of the risk, and that to do this it recommends removal of the whole stand of pines as soon as possible. The council has adopted a risk-based approach with the aim of eliminating the risk.

70.     Council also has obligations outside of the HSWA.  As a landowner, Council owes a duty of care to its neighbours to ensure that no hazards occurring on its land cause foreseeable loss or harm, therefore the council is required to take reasonable steps to remove or reduce these hazards.

71.     If council does not fully implement the consent then the risk will not be eliminated.

Ngā koringa ā-muri

Next steps

72.     Subject to local board approval, staff propose to implement the tree removal and restoration works as soon as possible, in accordance with the granted resource consent conditions. As outlined above, the resource consent conditions require plans to be made available to the Community Liaison Group simultaneously when submitting to the consent authority. Staff will provide these plans to the local board at the same time as they are provided to the Community Liaison Group.

73.     Once the pine trees have been felled and it is deemed safe enough for contractors to work in the area, pest plant and animal control will be reinstated, and planting will be undertaken to achieve 90 percent cover of woody vegetation within five years, as per an approved final Ecological Management Plan set out in the approved consent conditions. The native plantings will be maintained on a regular basis in order to maximise survival.

74.     The proposed revegetation with indigenous plant species, together with the control of pest plants and animals will, in the medium to long-term, substantially improve the current ecological values of the site and provide important local habitat for indigenous birds, lizards, invertebrates, and plants. In addition, the felled pine material to remain on site will provide useful habitat for invertebrates, epiphytic vascular plants, lichens, and fungi, as well as return nutrients to the soil.

75.     It is anticipated that works will commence on site in March 2020.

Public Communication Plan

76.     A specific website for the project will be established which will contain daily project information for the initial part of the works and thereafter on a weekly basis. The website will include access to all the updated plans.

77.     An interested parties’ database will be created. Prior to the works commencing an email database of submitters, interested stakeholders and residents will be established and notifications and project updates will be sent daily for the initial part of the works and thereafter weekly.

78.     Staff will engage a community liaison contact who will be a readily accessible point of contact and available from 8am to 8pm on each workday for the duration of the project.

79.     There will be letter drops prior to the commencement of works to local residents.

 

Ngā tāpirihanga

Attachments

No.

Title

Page

a

Environmental Court Consent

15

b

Mana Whenua Engagement

71

c

Risk Assessment - Corporate Standard

73

d

Risk Assessment of Western Springs pine trees as at November 2019

93

 

Ngā kaihaina

Signatories

Authors

Paul Amaral - Area Manager – Regional Specialist

Authorisers

Rob Cairns - Manager Parks and Recreation Policy

Rod Sheridan - General Manager Community Facilities

Trina Thompson - Relationship Manager/Senior Advisor Waitematā Local Board

 


Waitematā Local Board

25 February 2020

 

 

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25 February 2020

 

 

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25 February 2020

 

 

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Waitematā Local Board

25 February 2020

 

 

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