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Coastal Stategy Workshops

Our Council advisors walk a tightrope when it comes to coastal hazards. Writing reports, projecting scenarios and holding workshops to discuss the possible effects covers all the angles, and preserves them from any suggestion that they have not ‘done their job.’

This is not a criticism – simply a factual representation of the difficulty of working with a Council on which powerful ‘climate sceptics’ clearly hold sway, and who appear to do all in their power to suppress the true state of coastal risk.

It was pointed out by Waikato Regional Council Hazard Advisor – Nick Liefting at today’s version of the Workshop that only one council was prepared to acknowledge ‘climate change' to his knowledge – that being Bay of Plenty, and only that Council has undertaken the necessary work to establish risk profiles, and ensure that all real estate and infrastructure  in the risk areas is appropriately identified.

What a disgraceful state of affairs,  and one that our Council appears determined to circumvent rather than ‘frighten the horses.’ Of course there are a huge number of ‘sceptics’ out there who are far more concerned about the value of their properties than to face the facts – all helped by perennial letter witter – Alistair Brickell, whose unsubstantiated  rubbish appears to have quite a following amongst this group.

To avoid dealing directly with the ‘elephant in the room’ that constitutes the risk from coastal inundation, storm surge and sea-level rise, our Council has presented the current Workshops as a bland Strategy designed to deal with five “themes”:

  •  Natural environment/amenity. Looking at how we maintain our estuaries, rivers and the health of our aquifers (groundwater). We also want to focus on healthy rivers and streams.
  • Coastal hazards, physical processes and community resilience. This is about making informed choices around how we respond to changes to our natural coastal systems including erosion, accretion, inundation and tsunami. It’s also about looking at our preparedness for natural disasters. We need to work closely with Civil Defence, DOC, NZTA, Waikato Regional Council, iwi and other stakeholders.
  • Maori values. This is about recognising tangata whenua’s special relationship with the coast.
  • Recreation, open spaces and access. Ensuring public access to our coastline and rivers is well-maintained, while balancing the impact on the natural environment. This also takes into account events and commercial activities in coastal open spaces.
  • Community assets and infrastructure. Ensuring we have high quality, fit-for-purpose infrastructure that is in keeping with the coastal environment and takes into account climate change and coastal hazards. It’s also about having a sound understanding of our existing infrastructure assets around the coast.

Note how the hazard “theme” has been buried amonst the range of other issues that while important have no relevance to the major concern facing all of us who live in this District.

They cover this in this manner:

“That’s why we are developing a Coastal Management Strategy, which will also help us advocate on your behalf when we’re dealing with other agencies (including regional council and central government) on policy and funding of coastal management practices into the future.”

A discussion with Nick Liefting today showed that there is no lack of understanding as to the issues and the measures that need to be taken – unfortunately, our Council staff appear to be tied into the straitjacket imposed by our raft of dinosaur councillors, and I am sad to say, our Mayor, who appear to have imposed a framework beyond which staff are unable to work.

This was sadly reflected by the comment of Cr Fox after Denis Tegg submitted to a recent meeting that the $6m Whitianga Town Centre renewal should be re-thought in the light of the latest sea-level rise information that the Council had available to it. Fox rubbished the idea, but only after Tegg left the meeting, saying that his community had “finished with consultation on the matter.”

That more or less sums it up!


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Reader Comments (4)

Rick Liefting did point to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council mapping website on hazards is an excellent example of what can be done. There are some other councils that have done similar equally good work – including Hawke's Bay, Northland, Auckland, Dunedin, and Christchurch.

In Hawke's Bay for example you can use their mapping tool to locate an individual certificate of title and then – totally for free – you can print out a comprehensive hazard report for that individual property which includes projected coastal flooding (inundation) for the present, the future in 50 years time and in 100 years time, erosion setback lines, liquefaction, earthquake hazard, tsunami, land flooding, and much more. All this in one freely available report.

This is the standard of hazard mapping and identification we seriously and urgently need now – given that our towns are some of the most at risk in the whole country from sea level rise.

Bay of Plenty

Hawkes Bay

October 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Tegg

Thanks Denis - good comment, and I have corrected Nick's name!

October 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

"... So we are talking about the "managed retreat" from quite a lot of built-up land. ..."
Now that is useful. All the maps and plans and documents, bally-hoo and wringing of hands et. al. is appropriate, much needed and useful, but we see in the phrase above one of the options for what we must do - what 'on the ground' thing we must do.
There is, surely, enough information available now that suggests something ought to be done - but what may be the question. The authors of the report give us an answer - MANAGED RETREAT. Now perhaps we might tackle the real issue - which is actually doing something.
More consultants refine the detail sure, but if we understand what the actions required are, we, mere lay-persons that we are, might finally comprehend the enormity of the task.
MANAGED RETREAT - let's consider that reality.

October 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

As a fairly recent arrival/returnee to Thames, and as a retired surveyor/planner with a concern for environmental issues, I have been very interested in the on-going discussion regarding climate change and sea level rise, particularly as it may affect the town area of Thames.
If one looks around the town, one sees substantial works that have been undertaken in fairly recent decades, towards the prevention or alleviation of flooding in the town area. (I refer here to such works as the sheet-piling and stop-banking along the Kauaeranga River, the ponding areas at the High School and at Danby Field, the 'channelling' of the Karaka Stream, the stop-bank/walkway along the Firth the whole length of town, and various associated flood gates etc.) The disastrous floods of the earlier days, feature in the history of the town. It would be interesting to know the detailed investigation of levels and rainfall intensities etc. that was made as the basis for the design and construction of these various works.
The stop-bank/walkway and associated works, clearly have a primary purpose of preventing inundation of the low-lying areas of the town at the times of extreme rainfall and unusually high tides - the typical combination resulting from high 'spring' tides and a very low-pressure storm event.
I raise the above matters, as I feel that those most directly affected by future sea level - residential/commercial/industrial land owners and occupiers in the low-lying areas of the town, are naturally most likely to look in the medium term, and in their lifetimes, to solutions other than 'managed retreat'. I hope that when the work of the district and regional councils on sea-level rise is progressed, the possible solutions of higher stop-banks and further ponding areas etc. will be put forward for consideration along with longer-term, more 'extreme', possible solutions. In the interim, I believe it is now incumbent on the district council in particular, to take a much more conservative and long-term approach to new buildings and redevelopment in the low-lying areas of the town. The simple setting of floor levels, and otherwise 'business as usual', is now not enough.

October 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTim

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