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Denis Tegg & the Hauraki Herald

My article for the HH was not published last week because of "lack of space." And fair enough, except that the letter of climate denier Alastair Brickell was published in full as a reminder to us all of the almost surreal arguments proffered by deniers generally.

I decided to approach Denis to establish more specifically the basis for his arguments about the need for our councils to get on with the work required under the National Coastal Policy Statement, and just how that relates to the current action by our Council to 'District' fund beach restoration at Mercury Bay - a matter of some unnecessary dispute between us, that really amounted to no more than the direction from which we were coming.

Denis was able to demonstrate to me the need for urgent action on the NCPS - action that appears to have been avoided either because of the lack of resources, or concern at the loud and adverse reaction already being experienced from property owners affected by maps of hazard lines.

We achieved agreement entirely on these issues, and I took advantage of the delay in the publication of my initial article to withdraw it and replace with the following:

Denis Tegg has highlighted another embarrassing failure in regard to the response of both our Councils to the reality of sea-level rise. Many other councils are well advanced with mapping of coastal hazards and engagement with affected communities.  Denis correctly draws attention to the particular dangers facing our Peninsula over the long term, that may or may not be exceeded. They will certainly not be insignificant for Thames over the next few decades.

It is my contention that the current action of TCDC in support of the Mercury Bay Board’s appeal for ‘District’ funding of their immediate million dollar beach erosion problem is a short term solution separate from, if related to the requirements of the 2010 National Coastal Policy Statement, and that it confuses the wider NCPS issues, while establishing an unnecessary and difficult precedent to overturn while the wider issues are under consideration.

Denis has pointed out that this is an ideal opportunity to establish which parts of the entire District coast are most at risk, and that only when this work is done should fair funding arrangements for Mercury Bay beach erosion be worked through, particularly as far as they vary established policy.  

He is rightly concerned that the entire discussion is taking place in an information and policy vacuum, without proper consideration of sea-level rise and climate change. Alastair Brickell’s attempt last week to dismiss his article for failing to provide ‘evidence’ of climate change must surely rate as the ‘deniers’ favourite bleat - demanding ‘evidence.’ Repeating evidence is surely by now superfluous when it is there for all to see on a daily basis. Just because we recently dodged a major cyclone bullet is no reason for complacency.

Denis correctly berates our Council and the WRC for failing to produce the required coastal hazard documents, and failing to consult widely with those affected.  So far, all that has emerged in the six years since the requirement was mandated are inadequate inundation maps. They alone have inspired outrage amongst many of those affected, and this appears to have caused an overly cautious approach in both our Councils, not helped by news reports (including one on 29 April) that insurance companies would deny protection for property below the 1.5m High Water Mark by 2025.  

Every community on this Peninsula is entitled to be fully informed of the risks we face, and for councils to plan accordingly in accordance with the Government’s mandated requirements. This is not panic, but simple prudence in the face of the absence of a nation-wide response. Government, regardless of its composition will simply continue to pass this responsibility to councils - our Boards and Councils should recognise this, and get on with the job.

In the meantime, piecemeal decisions on Mercury Bay beach protection and restoration should await a District wide policy on how we adapt to erosion, sea-flooding (inundation), and the many other possible hazard events outlined in the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

We should be grateful to Denis Tegg for bringing this issue to the fore, and support his efforts to get Council and community action moving – delay is no longer an option. 

I hope this demonstrates my willingness to modify my position on important issues when provided with appropriate evidence, and Denis certainly managed that with aplomb.

I acknowledge his extensive research and primary concern for this District and its inhabitants. More notice should be taken of his writing, and the assumption of superior knowledge by Council staff required to implement the provisions of the Statement avoided. We are all in this together, and neither complacency, nor ignorance should be allowed to interfere with the fulfilment of our obligations.




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Reader Comments (1)

It was pleasing to see how an evidenced based approach managed to convince Bill of the merit of the points I have made in my original column in the Hauraki Herald, and on my blog -

Thanks Bill.

A few days ago I wrote to local council representatives and staff members with which I attached this paper.

Please have a read, check out the maps and click on the links for more information. I would welcome any comments.

The main issues I raised were to ask the councils to get on with the job of identifying and mapping all coastal hazards, and to set up open days and workshops in every Peninsula community so that everyone can be informed about the risks they are or will be facing.

So far, the response has been encouraging.

May 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Tegg

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