5 Apr 2014

Tree felling charge axed

9:51 am on 5 April 2014

The Kapiti Coast District Council has decided not to continue its prosecution against a couple who had some native trees cut down on their property.

Peter and Diana Standen from Otaki say they had the rotting and dangerous trees felled in accordance with regulations set out in a council brochure.

The couple in their 70s say they are relieved that their legal fight with the council, which began in November last year, is over.

Their trouble began after someone in their neighbourhood complained. Mr Standen said he and his wife love nature, and despite it being a very stressful experience, were determined to stand their ground.

"We could've pleaded guilty and been fined, and that's presumably what they wanted us to do. But we both felt, my wife and I, that we had done nothing wrong. And, therefore, we weren't prepared to lie down and accept what they wanted us to do. You don't want to be prosecuted for something when you haven't broken any law."

The council's acting chief executive, Tamsin Evans, on Friday defended the decision to withdraw charges.

"I think we've made a considered decision, as we're obliged to do, to keep reviewing the charges - the Solicitor-General's prosecution guidelines - and we have continually reviewed the charges. We came into new information yesterday morning, made a decision yesterday that it wasn't in the public interest to continue with the prosecution."

Ms Evans says the arborist employed by the couple to cut down the trees is still being prosecuted.