Council retracts felling plan

Albert Kinnell’s pine trees have a stay of execution.

Auckland Council will no longer require Albert Kinnell to fell around 150 trees because some of them breach the allowable height on the approach path of Dairy Flat Aero Club (HM April 3).

Council has been pursuing the Silverdale resident for three years, asking him to fell the trees at his expense, after the Aero Club drew the matter to Council’s attention.

Structures and trees that breach the height limit can pose a risk to safe take off and landing procedures.

The trees in question include a plantation of pines and an orchard and the cost of the felling was estimated at around $70,000.

However, after the story went to print, Mr Kinnell received a letter from Council saying that, following independent legal advice, it would be taking no further enforcement action in relation to the trees.

In addition, it has come to light that the Aero Club’s approach path procedures were redesigned by Aeropath in 2017, effectively reducing the risks posed by the trees.

Aeropath head Trent Clarke says that the report it provided to the Aero Club noted various obstacles in the vicinity of the aerodrome, including trees, as well as possible safety mitigations. He says these included increasing the angle of the approach path to clear the trees, and the addition of a caution note about the trees for pilots in the relevant aeronautical publications.

North Shore Aero Club general manager John Punshon says that the procedures were redesigned so that the trees on the Kinnells’ property do not pose a risk to pilots – until such time as the trees can be removed.

Mr Punshon says the Council bylaws required the trees to be removed, and that it was therefore a Council matter, not a civil aviation matter.

He says he is not able to comment on whether the club will pursue removal of the trees in due course, as that is a decision for its committee.

Mr Kinnell says he is very relieved and thankful that the council has seen sense. “It’s a great weight off my shoulders,” he says.

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