Guilty for part in felling 100 trees

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne is pleased an Arrowtown businessman has been found guilty in the Environment Court for his part in the felling of more than 100 trees near Kaiteriteri.

Michael John Davies, of Arrowtown, appeared in the Environment Court at Nelson yesterday and was found guilty of one charge in relation to the felling at Stephens Bay last year.

In a statement published on the Tasman District Council website yesterday, Mr Kempthorne said the outcome of the court case was pleasing.

He said the council was considering ways of restoring the area affected by the felling.

''A landowner was today found guilty for his role in the chopping down of over a hundred trees and shrubs in an adjoining scenic reserve. Councils throughout the country develop and/or manage reserves within their areas as part of the public estate.

''The many reserves throughout Tasman, used and treasured by residents and visitors alike, are often the defining feature of areas that go to make up the attractiveness of the district,'' he said.

The ''dismay and outrage'' expressed by residents and visitors about the felling was compounded when it became apparent it had been ''obviously preventable'' by the landowner, Mr Kempthorne said.

''The court's findings are pleasing in this regard,'' he said.

He thanked ''residents'' for their time and evidence, which ''played an important role'' in the outcome.

''They, like the council, will be awaiting the court's decision regarding the sentencing.''

A woman at Davies' Arrowtown address told the Otago Daily Times he was not available for comment last night.

Davies initially faced two charges under the Reserves Act and Resource Management Act, which he denied, when it was alleged he gave an arborist approval to fell 110 trees on headland reserve near his Kaiteriteri crib.

Davies is a director of his family's firm, Trojan Holdings, which has substantial tourism and property interests. The family's wealth is estimated to be about $90 million.

Davies is due to be sentenced on March 7.