Coastal Hazards Reversal

coastal hazardsKapiti’s Coastal Ratepayers win battle with Council over hazard lines

By Alan Tristram

In a major about-face, the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) has announced it is all but abandoning the main plank in its coastal hazards policy.

The Council says it is ‘making changes to coastal hazard information included in Land Information Memoranda (LIMs) to take into account new information… received as part of the recent expert coastal panel process.’

Chair of Coastal Ratepayers United, Christopher Ruthe, welcomed the news. He says: “We consider there is no scientific basis for any information to be on LIMs as there is no agreement amongst experts as to what is a hazard. However,  the newly elected Council is moving in the right direction by substantially modifying the LIM information.”

The controversial, and now abandoned,  coastal hazards policy was strongly supported by previous Mayor Jenny Rowan and some of the councillors defeated in the recent local elections.

New Mayor Ross Church says coastal science is still evolving and Council has always said it would be open to any new any information that came to light.

“Council brought a panel of world-renowned experts to Kāpiti to review the science it had been relying on, after it was questioned by many coastal residents,” he says.

“Those residents got an opportunity to table scientific reports from their own experts and that information will now be included in LIMs alongside Council commissioned reports.”

The new information refers to scientific reports from two experts challenging the extent, or even existence, of erosion on some parts of the Kāpiti coastline.

In future, any LIM requests for properties will refer to these latest reports from Dr Willem de Lange and Mr Angus Gordon, as well as the 2012 report from Coastal Systems Ltd, which led to new information being included in LIMs from August 2012.  Projected shoreline maps or lines will no longer be included in the LIM itself.

We have listened and we will continue to listen,” says Mayor Church.  “In recent weeks the new Council has put considerable effort into building bridges with the community and taking a more collaborative approach on what is a very important issue for this District.

Hopes to regain lost goodwill

“I hope the convening of the coastal panel and commissioning of an independent review of the Proposed District Plan have regained some of the goodwill and trust I think we had lost.”

Mayor Church says the removal of projected shoreline maps and lines from LIMs will be a relief to coastal property owners.

“We accept these lines on LIMs have not been well received and in response to the new scientific information and in line with the new wording on LIMs, we will be removing them.  Prospective purchasers will instead be directed to our website to review the detailed information Council holds, including projected shoreline maps.”

Council has also signalled it will be relaxing its building consent processes related to properties in natural hazard zones.  Process will revert to those that applied under the existing Operative District Plan and were not as restrictive.

Coastal Ratepayers chair Mr Ruthe also says he hopes the problem with Building Act issues would be speedily resolved, and he was pleased to see KCDC flagging its intentions in this regard.

Affected property owners will receive a letter this week informing them of the changes

I’m sure if KCDC or the King Canutes that live in the ‘coastal hazard area’ would be able to find/pay a so called expert, to say that in fact the sea level is going to go down, and people living near the coast will be able to subdivide their growing backyards within the next 10 years or so. And that we will soon be able to walk to Kapiti Island.

Ha ha, if you believe that the original lines were over estimating sea level rise, then you deserve to go under water.
400 parts per million CO2 = a 23 meter sea level rise, once all the global ice finishes melting, and the deep oceans catch up with the warming atmosphere. And that information comes from ice core samples from when it was @ 400 ppm, not from computer predictions.

Though I am happy to be paid to tell you what you want to hear.

Good that the new Mayor and councillors together with Group Manager Stephen McArthur appear to have negotiated a resolution to this long drawn out and unnecessary battle over Coastal Hazards lines.

One is left wondering if CRU had not had the resources commitment intellectual grunt and sheer persistence whether the outcome would have been the same? What if there had not been some new faces in Council to help push the debate forward?

The basic issue has been the previous Council’s high handedness and unwillingness to engage and consult with the affected community and their failure in communication. Council is there to serve the ratepayers not the other way around.

Does this episode mark a change in direction for the new Council Councillors and the existing senior management staff? I sincerely hope so.

Hopefully it will allow Council to deal not only with contentious group issues but also those of the individual who invariably feels out gunned and ground down over time by officials.
Many causes, individuals and groups do not have the resources that CRU was able to mobilise to fight their case.

Ratepayers pockets are not limitless nor is their patience in seeing their hard earned money squandered by Council when a different approach can produce beneficial results for all.

Now is the time to develop a better way of community engagement and consultation and improve communication on both sides of the divide if we are to create a cohesive vibrant community.