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Coastal Hazard Adaptation - 5 years on

Our beautiful shoreline of New Zealand
Coastal Hazard Adaptation

The last 2 months of 2020 has seen several Christchurch City Council staff work-streams around Coastal Hazards culminate in presentations to the City Council for endorsement. Notably the establishment of the Coastal Hazards Working Group (CHWG) and the Coastal Hazards Adaptation Planning (CHAP) programme.

The establishment of CHWG and CHAP programme has followed many years of discussion with CCRU and other community groups on a better way forward- A focus on adaption, engagement, and transparency. There was a desire by all parties, to not repeat the debacle that was the historically fraught previous Coastal Hazards Program started in 2015, with the publishing of the Tonkin and Taylor effects of sea level rise 2013 (updated from 1999 report) and the April 2015 release Chapter 5 Natural Hazards.

In 2015 CCRU and the community disputed the report as not being fit for purpose and not adequate for policy development. The community and experts disputed the report as being a desk top study, not area specific. This report was completed in 19 days and the terms of reference were set by Tonkin Taylor themselves. It was stated that the report was inadequate in depth for use by the CCC for policy development. As a result, on September 29, 2015, the Govt overrode the CCC and dumped the Sea Level Rise Hazards overlays from the PRDP.

“The government has overridden Christchurch City Council and dumped a proposed controversial and wealth-destroying sea rise hazard plan. The coastal hazard plan involved tagging 18,600 land titles, forbidding any kind of development including house extensions, and leading to property devaluation and insurance premium hikes. City council natural environment manager Helen Beaumont was behind the natural hazards chapter in the plan.”

MP Nicky Wagner said at the time:

“The coastal hazard proposals in the council’s draft plan have caused concern for communities like New Brighton, Southshore and Sumner. We should not allow our thinking to become so cautious that we block development in areas on the premise of worst-case scenarios of sea level rise. We need to take the time on such far-reaching rules to rigorously test restrictions from both an economic and a risk management perspective,”

“The government acknowledges the advocacy of local residents' groups who have sought this revised approach. This deferral is an opportunity for the councils and communities to re-engage and find a better way to deal with these coastal hazards risks,” the ministers concluded.

Fast-forward to 2020. CCRU indicated that while they saw the establishment of the Coastal Hazards group as a positive step, they were concerned with the group being limited to only councillors and felt that this singular membership would not provide suitable breadth and depth of discussion and expertise.

This report also included The Royal Haskoning DHV short report on Coastal Hazard Adaptation Planning, maps prioritising areas and types of risk.

Regarding the CHAPS documents, CCRU have noted that the report indicated best information to date was used for the maps and the report. CCRU questioned this fact, pointing out the Southshore Erosion Line was based on 2017 information, and that this has now been superseded by the 2018 NIWA Sand Budget Report indicating this portion of the beach is accreting and was unlikely to go into negative sand budget in the foreseeable future.

The first phase of work in the CHAP programme will be in the Lyttleton- Mt Herbert Adaptation Area. It will be in 3 phases and is estimated to take approximately 3 years to complete.

CCRU will continue to observe and engage.


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