29 Jul 2013

Farmer 'unaware' felling totaras illegal

7:22 pm on 29 July 2013

A Waikato farmer has admitted felling up to 70 totara trees that were nearly 100 years old but says he didn't know it was illegal.

Christopher Fraser Jones pleaded guilty to two charges brought under the Resource Management Act by the Matamata-Piako District Council in the Hamilton District Court on Monday.

The court was told the trees were felled to stop duck shooters using it for cover because Mr Fraser-Jones believed a duck shooter's dog had brought a virus onto his farm that killed a third of his stock and cost him $100,000.

Mr Fraser-Jones' lawyer Phillip Grace said the felling would actually have a positive effect on the environment because the stand of trees was degenerating.

But a spokesperson for the council, Phillip Lang, argued that the trees had been destroyed in one fell swoop and any regeneration would take up to 100 years.

Judge Melanie Harland reserved her decision on sentencing until 26 August.