Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Anger over removal of large trees to make way for Eastern Busway

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A large number of trees have been cut down outside Pakuranga Plaza as part of work for the Eastern Busway. Times photo Wayne Martin

One part of east Auckland is looking a little less green after numerous tall trees were chopped down to make way for the Eastern Busway public transport project.

Photos taken by the Times show rows of low, thick tree stumps sitting outside Pakuranga Plaza, adjacent to Pakuranga Road and Ti Rakau Drive, with more than a dozen visible in one short stretch.

The trees’ recent removal has sparked a strong reaction on local community Facebook pages.

One post on the subject drew more than 60 comments, with one person saying it’s “disgusting”.

“There was a huge number of birds who nested in those trees. It’s bad enough with the destruction of habitat along Ti Rakau Drive for the ghost buses.”

Another person said they almost cried when they saw the trees being cut down.

“There is something seriously wrong with our Government and most of our society. We should be protesting for such disgusting acts like that.”

Large trees have been cut down outside Pakuranga Plaza adjacent to Ti Rakau Drive. Times photo Wayne Martin

One person tagged Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown on the post and asked if the trees’ removal was justified.

Brown replied: “Trees are being removed to make way for the Eastern Busway and Reeves Road Flyover.

“There will be replacement vegetation when they do the Eastern Busway, just like they did along the bit between Panmure and Pakuranga.”

AT spokesperson Natalie Polley says between August 29 and December, the Eastern Busway project team will be upgrading the stormwater network to help reduce flood risk on a section of Pakuranga Road outside Pakuranga Plaza.

“The work needs to take place before construction starts on the Reeves Road Flyover.

“There will be road layout changes and sign-posted temporary entrances to some Pakuranga businesses.

“Two traffic lanes will be open in each direction, with a third lane opening in the morning peak for vehicles heading towards Panmure.

“In the afternoon, the third lane will be open for vehicles heading towards Howick.”

Polley says that will ensure the current peak capacity of Pakuranga Rd is maintained with three lanes available during peak traffic periods.

“When the Eastern Busway from Pakuranga to Botany is completed, there will be new planting and landscaping to replace vegetation and trees that have been removed for the project to be built.”

Howick Local Board chairperson Damian Light says while it’s “unfortunate” to see the trees get cut down, the removal of some trees in the short-term is necessary to enable progress on the busway.

“We know transport is a significant challenge for locals and the Eastern Busway will provide more frequent, reliable, and quicker transport choices for east Auckland.

“The Eastern Busway project team has advised us they will be planting natives to replace trees that are removed during construction.

“The designs we’ve been provided show an increased number of trees and planting as part of the landscaping along the route.

“We’ve seen their commitment to sustainability through the deconstruction and removal of houses along Ti Rakau Drive, which provided recycling and reuse opportunities.”

Light says the local board is committed to improving the number of trees in the community though its Howick Urban Ngahere Action Plan.

Its goal is to increase tree canopy cover from an estimated 15 per cent to a “much healthier” 30 per cent, he says.

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