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Millions in property at risk from the sea

Property valued at $525 million is at high risk from coastal erosion and flooding on the eastern Coromandel, according to a report from Environment Waikato.

The Council’s Environment Committee heard this week that the risk of erosion and flooding on the coast seriously affecting properties and people was second only to river flooding – and the situation will get even more serious as sea levels rise on the coast. Communities on the west coast faced an immediate threat.

Asset Management Group Manager Scott Fowlds said significant property was at risk. Because of rising sea levels Environment Waikato needed to be more proactive, he said.

Coastal scientist Bronwen Riddle said rising seas caused by global warming and the greater likelihood of serious cyclonic storms would increase shoreline retreat. Communities would have to decide how to deal more intelligently with development on the coast as there was widespread existing development in the hazard zone.
“We are just undertaking a technical review of hazard lines. The major difficulty will be when the district councils head towards community consultation. There are 525 million reasons why there will be opposition.”
She said coastal flooding was common in many areas and not enough was known about the effect of tsunami from which the eastern Coromandel was considerably at risk.
Environment Waikato intended to identify and prioritise hazard risks, work with territorial authorities, develop plans to manage the risks, take a precautionary approach when assessing risks for permits for subdivisions and development, and promote the use of natural buffers such as dunes.
It also intended to control the use of structures such as shoreline armouring to prevent damage to natural character and use environmental education to make communities more aware of hazards.
Cr Helen Lane said local councils were torn between preventing development and the dollars coming from developing areas in the hazard zone, but did not take into account the costs they might incur to deal with the problems, or climate change.

Cr Evan Penny said while houses on the Coromandel were technically relocatable, people wanted to hang onto their real estate and would go to extreme lengths to protect them. Some would have no option in the future but to move, and Environment Waikato would have to support local authorities in dealing with the problem as a whole.

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.

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