Trees on agenda at meeting

Maggie Hillock
Maggie Hillock
Guardians of a row of threatened trees along a highway into Queenstown will meet on Monday to formalise their alliance.

About 30 people have expressed interest in joining the campaign to save the 29 trees, which sit on private land beside the Ladies Mile.

The mix of mature exotic trees were on death row until a community outcry prompted infrastructure company Delta to agree to a stay of execution until spring, so options for saving them can be explored.

Arrowtown resident and meeting organiser Maggie Hillock said the tree supporters would meet at the Lake Hayes Pavilion on Monday at 7.30pm.

The meeting's purpose was to form an independent committee or accept an invitation from the Lake Hayes Estate Community Association to form a sub-committee under its umbrella.

The group's priority would be to encourage Wakatipu residents to lobby the Queenstown Lakes District Council for funding to be allocated in the annual plan for maintaining the trees, Mrs Hillock said.

‘‘The greenery in the area is becoming more and more essential to soften all the other development that is happening, and we really need to protect it.''

The group would also consider how best to raise funds to save the trees, should other sources of funding not come through.

The committee would include lawyers, who were investigating who was responsible for the trees.

The trees encroach on overhead power lines supplying electricity to 2600 customers in the area.

Although they stand on private land, the landowning family has relinquished its interest in them because of the cost of keeping them trimmed.

After initially planning to fell the trees on February 2, then giving them a week's reprieve, Delta agreed to trim the trees this autumn, at its own expense, as a ‘‘one-off'' gesture.

Delta communications manager Gary Johnson said it was too early to say when it would provide the community with information on the feasibility and cost of re-routing or burying the power lines.

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