A Waiwera developer who damaged seven protected native trees – six pohutukawa and one totara – has been sentenced to two-and-a-half months imprisonment.
Augustine Lau, who appeared in the Auckland District Court late last month, had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of using land in contravention of regional and district rules under the Resource Management Act.
Mr Lau was involved in a 145-lot subdivision on a 6.9 hectare property at 32 Weranui Road.
Auckland Council’s manager of regulatory compliance, Steve Pearce, says that the sentencing sends a strong message that this kind of damage to the environment is not acceptable and disregard for the rules won’t be tolerated.
A Council media statement quoted Judge Kellar, at the time of sentencing: “It is hard to imagine a more deliberate case and that Mr Lau’s purpose was financial gain, because the views resulting from removal of the trees would have significantly enhanced the value of the property.
“To describe the attitude of the offender as poor would be an understatement.”
Mr Lau was said to have shown “little respect to Council officers” and “flagrant disregard” for the consenting process.
As a result of Mr Lau’s actions, four of the affected trees were seriously damaged with only the base of the trunk remaining, and it was determined that all of these trees would die as a result of the unlawful work. The other three trees also suffered serious damage. The trees were all large, mature specimens, some of which were found to be more than 100 years old.
Mr Pearce says that anyone who is concerned about damage being done to protected trees or development works should call Council as soon as possible on 09 301 0101.