Coastal Erosion
Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 10:47PM
Bill Barclay

     Readers will recall that I mentioned in my Deliberations Day One post that I would return to the subject of coastal erosion. It will probably help if I put forward some extracts from the Draft District Plan that draw attention to these matters. The full document is available on the Website under District Plan, Natural Hazards should you wish to check the entire contents. I will confine myself to coastal erosion.


This is what we are up against:

"While current landowners may be happy to shoulder risk, New Zealand experience has shown that when hazard events happen, the later landowners demand expensive Council works, using the argument that Council granted it, so Council must protect it.  The Courts have often supported this view."


"This line has had sustained challenge, despite the fact that the Council is required to identify it under the NZCPS and RPS.  The Waikato Regional Council, Environmental Defence Society, Federated Farmers and some individual commenters support it.  Environmental Defence Society want to go further, and want no increase in hazard risk (even within tolerable levels), and for subdivision, house sites to be identified and used outside the FCPA.  WRC would like to see “managed retreat” as a viable option; however the Council does not have the power to revoke existing use rights under the RMA."


"Turbot concludes that coastal hazards do not have an obvious effect on market value of beachfront property, possibly because:

Risk information is submerged within a variety of other information that investors take into account.

A lack of current direct evidence of damage.  People do not believe risk assessments unless there has been actual physical damage to property over the last 5 years.

A belief that damage will be minor, recovered from insurance, or easily protected by walls/works.

A belief that "It won't happen to me".

Publicly funded works will protect me.  This is a reasonable expectation based on a history of such works. (my underline)

The long-term possible risk is worthwhile when compared to the shorter-term capital gains from seafront property.

The property will be sold again before any erosion occurs."


"When looking at Buffalo Beach, Environment Waikato (2006)[1] found that north Buffalo Beach property values were lower because of uncertainty around the coastal erosion issue.  However at south Buffalo Beach, which has a higher coastal erosion issue, any hazard risk effect on values was minor - possibly because the Esplanade, rock wall and phoenix palms give rise to an assumption that the properties will remain protected long term."


"Over the past few years, communities have become aware of their coastal erosion risk, now and in the future.  The natural consequence is a desire, as expressed in the Draft Plan comments and in person, to build sea walls, dunes, groynes, plants, and management plans to protect people's properties.   Area managers and the Council are also concerned about the loss of their coastal reserves."


I trust that these few extracts set the scene for what is likely to happen in the future. It is the old story of socialising losses, and capitalising the gains. I have spoken to owners of beach front properties at Whitianga who are adamant that it is the Council's responsibility to protect, and if necessary, compensate - full stop! The sense of entitlement is deeply entrenched in these communities, and who can blame them if they feel they can get away with it. I certainly cannot see any level of resistance to this amongst our current crop of elected members - I suspect that they would reach for the cheque-book rather than suffer any disapprobation amongst their supporters.   




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