Your say on coastal erosion

Western Bay of Plenty residents will get their chance to decide what gets top priority for erosion protection between private property, community infrastructure or cultural/historical sites.

The first stage in the development of a 30-year Western Bay of Plenty-wide policy for tackling harbour and coastal erosion got underway on Monday, November 9.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council is opening discussions with residents and ratepayers on the controversial topic, starting with an online forum titled ’Living with the Changing Tides’.

Until November 30 people are invited to have their say on who should fund erosion protection efforts, what should be protected, and how. 

It will also make public for the first time research that shows what effects erosion could have on the District in 100 years’ time – taking into account the effects of sea level rise.

Western Bay of Plenty Council Policy and Planning manager Liz Davies says feedback received through the forum will guide Council in developing a draft District-wide policy for erosion. The policy, once finalised, will be in place for 30 years.

"There are some big decisions that need to be made, and that could potentially affect the entire district, not just those people living by the water.

"We really encourage everyone to have a look at the information and tell us what they think."

Key topics covered in the discussions include how we should protect against erosion; whether private property, community infrastructure, or cultural/historic sites should be prioritised; and who should fund the work.  

Liz says the project is based on a research project looking at potential erosion and flooding at Western Bay harbour margins and open coastlines. The results have been mapped, include the anticipated impact of climate change, which suggests New Zealand should prepare for a 1m sea level rise over the next 100 years. Maps of the Western Bay have been generated, showing the extent of the possible effects.

"While 100 years may seem like a long time away, as a district we need to start talking about how we are going to tackle this. We need to make sure we have a plan in place that is fair, effective and affordable over the long term," says Liz.

The Living with the Changing Tides online forum runs from November 9 to 30. Participants can read frequently asked questions and relevant research, view maps and photos, take part in discussions and polls, and ask council staff questions.

To take part visit haveyoursay.westernbay.govt.nz

Anyone unable to participate online can visit one of Council’s service centres or phone 07 571 8008.