'Playing Chicken' With Council on Sea-level Rise. 
Friday, December 7, 2018 at 10:32AM
Bill Barclay

There is an excellent story by Eloise Gibson (Environmental and Science editor) in yesterday's Newsroom, on the manner in which developers have, and are taking advantage of a vacillating Government, and councils when it comes to rational prevention of coastal development.

Nowhere is this more evident in this District than in the case of the Richmond apartment development (crane on site!), and at Whitianga Waterways, the Whitianga town-centre upgrade, and at Cook's Beach. The developers simply took advantage of the lax rules that applied at time, and went ahead with selling the properties, thereby transferring the risk to the buyers, and eventually to the Council that will inevitably be called upon to provide the necessary protection when the inevitable sea-level rise takes place.

Eloise points to a particularly egregious example in the US where a mayor promoted huge expenditure on public facilities for a tiny town called Jean Lafitte in Louisiana in order to make the town "too valuable" not to justify Federal and State support in the event of flooding, or the imminent threat of flooding.

That rationale could not have possibly entered the minds of our planning authority, could it? - no, of course not. It was simply greedy for the developments and consequential fees and economic benefits that would result  to take place, and for approvals to be given before imminent new Government regulations under the Coastal Protection Act, raising the levels by an additional 1 metre above HWM where developments could be approved, were to be implemented.

This was not only deplorable, it was a completely irresponsible action on the part of our Council regardless of the legal jeopardy that it may have been feared by refusing planning permission at that time. It is evidence of why planning permissions should be removed from councils forthwith, and without regard to the squealing of mayors, including our own, who see such action as the 'thin end of the wedge' in regard to  amalgamations. 

It is notable that Eloise chose to include photos of Whitianga in flood, and the Moanataiari  sea-wall to illustrate her article. Our Council's plight has not gone un-noticed!

 

 

 

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