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Expert panel to review Christchurch coastal hazards report

The Christchurch City Council will get a controversial report into coastal hazards peer reviewed.

A panel of scientific experts will review a controversial report identifying thousands of Christchurch properties at risk of coastal erosion.

Christchurch City councillors unanimously agreed on Thursday to subject the Coastal Hazard Assessment report by Tonkin and Taylor to a second peer review.

The science behind the report has been widely questioned. The experts will be appointed after community consultation.

Cr David East said the process up until now had been rushed and the significance and importance of coastal science had not been given the credence it deserved.

He said the Tonkin and Taylor report had been questioned on various fronts and found to be wanting.

"My objective has always been to remove the Tonkin and Taylor report and the LIM information and start with a clean sheet."

The council agreed to immediately review the wording on Land Information Memorandum (LIM) reports about coastal hazards to make sure it was fair, clear and accurate.

The Tonkin and Taylor report, which was publicly released in July, used computer modelling to identify 6000 properties that could be susceptible to erosion and nearly 18,000 that could face coastal inundation over the next 50 to 100 years.

The move follows a report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright on sea level rise, which suggested the wording in the LIMs were "not sufficiently clear".

Council natural environment and heritage unit manager Helen Beaumont said the commissioner was concerned the LIM notations could imply the risk was higher than it was.

Information on the LIM reports would be reexamined after completion of the peer review.

Christchurch Coastal Residents United (CCRU) group spokesman Mark Munro said the group supported a further peer review, however, it still believed there were sound reasons to remove the Tonkin and Taylor report entirely and the LIM notices.

CCRU wanted to appoint two representatives onto the peer review panel.

"The terms of reference [of the review] need to be robust enough so it can tell us what the Tonkin and Taylor or isn't."

Munro said the coastal hazard information was continuing to have a significant impact on people's lives and property values.

"Just throw it away and start with a clean sheet of paper.

"But if the council needs a panel of scientists to tell them that then we'll go along with it."

Mathematician and policy analyst Simon Arnold reviewed Tonkin and Taylor's report and found it was statistically flawed, based on outdated law, and exaggerated the effects of sea-level rise.

Arnold welcomed the council's review but said it was unnecessary.

He hoped both legal and statistical expertise were included in the review, two disciplines which were lacking from the Tonkin and Taylor report.

"It's bad enough to be told by an expert that in 100 years time something awful is going to happen to your property.

"It's even worse to have the council stick [that information] on your LIM so the value of your property is affected today on the basis of an extreme view of what could happen."

view this article in STUFF

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