In the Gore District, the foresight of our founding fathers has left us well endowed with trees of historical significance. Our climate means trees and shrubs flourish, sometimes too well. This can create a hazard or nuisance for motorists and pedestrians.
The Gore District Plan lists a number of significant trees. Such trees may not be felled or significantly altered without the Council's approval.
Minor maintenance and trimming of significant trees using hand-held tools is allowed, as long as the integrity of the tree is not compromised. It is the responsibility of the land owner to check whether trees on their land are protected.
We provides free advice on the appropriate maintenance and trimming of protected trees.
Tree Owners' Responsibilities
The owner of a tree is responsible for that tree and may be liable for damage it may cause. This could include leaves or roots blocking drainage on other properties and damage caused to boundary fences.
If a tree is overhanging a property boundary, the adjoining neighbour may trim the branches back to the boundary. This also applies to tree roots.
Any costs are to be paid by the person undertaking the work. If action taken by a neighbour affects the health of the tree, the owner may seek compensation through the courts.
It should be noted that any fruit on a tree belongs to the owner, regardless of whether that part of the tree is on their land or not.
If trees are blocking views or causing shading, and the tree owner and affected party can't reach agreement, the Court has the power to order removal or trimming of any tree.
Any decision will be based on
- the danger posed,
- loss of view,
- interference with enjoyment of the land, and
- amenity issues.
If the Court orders trimming or removal of the tree then the work is carried out at cost to the neighbour. If the tree is protected the Council's approval is also required.
A neighbour does not have a right to:
- Trespass on to the property of the owner of the tree.
- Take any action that could result in harm to the property of the tree owner such as excavating ground adjacent to the tree.
- Poison or spray the tree with herbicide.
- Chop the tree down if the trunk extends over the property boundary.
If trees are blown over during a storm, and damage a neighbour's property, this is deemed an "act of God".
If a tree on public land is creating a problem then you should contact the body concerned:
- New Zealand Transport Agency for state highways.
- The Council for other roads and reserves.
- KiwiRail for the railway corridor.
- Land Information New Zealand for river margins owned by the Crown.
If there is a complaint about trees that are the responsibility of the Council, we will take action to avoid any hazard. In other cases, a decision on whether any tree should be trimmed or removed, and who should pay, is made on a case-by-case basis.
Please contact us to discuss any concerns you may have about trees we look after.
Please keep any trees, shrubs and plants on your boundary clear of the road or footpath.
Overgrowth from trees, low shrubs, vines and hedges should be kept 2m away from any road or footpath.
We will ask a landower to undertaken any maintenance work if trees and/or shrubs on private land create a nuisance or a potential danger to the public, such as
- Branches overhanging roads or footpaths,
- Roots creating an uneven surface on footpaths,
- A risk of branches falling off or the tree toppling on to public land
If no action is taken, the Council can undertake the required work and recover the cost from the landowner.
Trees Near Power Lines
Trees close to power lines can disrupt power and result in fires. The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 set out separation distances of trees from power lines. The greater the voltage in the power lines, the greater the separation distance required. Further information can be obtained from electricity transmission companies, PowerNet and Transpower.
Generally, the electricity network company will trim trees near power lines on the first occasion at their cost. Any further work is at the land owner's expense.
A dispute about trees between neighbours is a civil matter. Unless the tree is on land under the control of the Council, or listed as being protected in its district plan, the Council cannot and will not get involved.