Homeowner cops fine from council
An Epsom homeowner is paying the price for ignoring district planning rules with a fine of $16,250 for damaging a rare lava flow forest in central Auckland.
He was successfully prosecuted by Auckland Council after removing trees, plants and some of the historic lava flow from his property which is part of the Almorah lava forest, an area of ecological significance protected under the Auckland District Plan.
Following a complaint from a member of the public, Auckland Council enforcement staff visited the site near Mt Eden and found signs of previous and current excavation work of the lava flow, the construction of a rock wall and the removal of protected plants and trees.
The property owner was asked to stop works but continued until a formal enforcement notice was issued against him.
After further investigation the council decided to lay charges which resulted in the fine imposed by the District Court.
‘‘This is a nationally significant ecosystem and local residents are usually protective of this special area,’’ the council’s resource consent and compliance manager Mark White says.
‘‘In this case it was being damaged and enforcement measures were needed to protect the environment from further destruction.’’
Lava flow forests are rare, occurring when vegetation grows on the lava rock left from a volcanic eruption. The Almorah forest is the largest remaining area of lava flow forest in central Auckland and has been identified as a significant ecological area. It is on Maungawhau, or Mt Eden, with tracts of native bush.
Mr White encourages Auckland residents to call the council if they have questions about what can or can’t be done on their property.
A resource consent application proposing extensive mitigation work at the Epsom property, including restorative landscaping, is being processed.