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22 Jan 2018 5:49
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  •   Home > News > Local Politics

    Cyclists, tree defenders clash in Auckland

    Environmentalists against bicycle enthusiasts: a war of words is being waged on Auckland's Quay Street as trees are relocated for a cycleway.

    Downtown Auckland's Quay Street has become a battleground between environmentalists and bike enthusiasts, with tree defenders fighting the removal of pohutukawa to make way for the cycleway extension.

    Work to remove 15 pohutukawa trees on the waterfront road began on Wednesday morning, but was impeded by two protesters from the Urban Tree Alliance.

    Lobby group Bike Auckland expressed its frustrations at the protest and questioned the motivation behind it.

    "Where were these people in the last decades when trees [were] chipped, not relocated - for roads! Why do they appear now with cycleways?" the group said on social media.

    "The worry is when the opposition is simply against cycleways, and speaks up for trees only as a means to an end."

    But Urban Tree Alliance founder April Bonar says the group is absolutely not against bikes, but just wants better design around the city's green infrastructure.

    "Auckland Transport has a case of removing trees instead of being creative ... every tree we remove we have to plant another hundred, so we're back-peddling," she said.

    The group is also concerned the trees are being transplanted during the wrong season, which will be detrimental to the trees survival if they're moved.

    Auckland Transport says all the trees removed will be replanted in either Teal Park or elsewhere in the city centre.

    It was granted resource consent to relocate the trees in September by independent commissioners.

    The decision said "the effects from the loss of the 15 trees is acceptable, especially in the context of the overall enhancement of the amenity of the area through provision of a dedicated cycleway".

    A spokesman for Auckland Transport said a call had to yet to be made on whether to address the protesters.


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