Irked at council's consultation over trees

Omakau resident Penny Sinnamon takes a final glance at one of the pine trees at Omakau’s Blacks...
Omakau resident Penny Sinnamon takes a final glance at one of the pine trees at Omakau’s Blacks Cemetery. PHOTOS ADAM BURNS
A Central Otago woman is disappointed with the level of communication from the Central Otago District Council around tree felling at a local cemetery.

The council is "gradually replacing" the perimeter shelterbelt pinus nigra trees at Omakau's Blacks Cemetery, with tree felling resuming this week.

Omakau resident Penny Sinnamon has engaged with council over the matter since the tree removal plans first started gaining traction - she believed more community consultation should have been done.

A decision was first made in 2016 by the Vincent Community Board to allocate $20,000 of the budget to the project at the council-managed cemetery following advice from an arborist of a risk from large tree limbs falling.

Mrs Sinnamon said she was "extremely disappointed" further tree felling was to occur without consultation with residents.

"After the initial tree felling, council said they were going to be transparent."

Mrs Sinnamon said funding would be better used for maintenance works at the cemetery.

"Some of these graves don't have relatives or descendants to look after them," she said.

Retired forestry professional Brian Swale, of Clyde, said council was "exaggerating the danger".

Penny Sinnamon
Penny Sinnamon
"From what I've seen the ground underneath is so dry, the tree roots haven't gone there [the area in question] because there is no moisture to attract them," he said.

"Pinus nigra limbs don't fall easily either."

Council planning and environment executive manager Louise van der Voort said the tree replacement was to help prevent falling tree limbs that may damage treasured headstones, and the lifting of headstones from tree roots.

Council also confirmed there had been consultation with residents.

A council spokeswoman said initial works had been covered off by way of public notices, multiple social media posts and newsletters.

"Communication was sent via email to the school and community groups, and our parks officer at the time had many direct conversations with community members and the local elected representative," she said.

The work began this week and will take about a fortnight, Ms van der Voort confirmed.

Council shared "stage two" plans via a post on their Facebook page on Monday.

"The majority of our cemeteries have shelterbelts planted around the perimeter, which have to be replaced as they mature to minimise any risks of collapse or limb failure, or as lifting occurs to prevent damage," Ms van der Voort said.

The dates for the final tree removals are "yet to be determined".

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