"These issues are back again", the pamphlet reads, dropped in the letter boxes of beachfront residents along the Kāpiti Coast.
It marks the return of a stoush, ongoing since 2012 , between the Kāpiti Coast District Council and residents' group the Coastal Ratepayers Union (CRU) over a project to map areas of the coast which are at risk from erosion and sea level rise.
While residents understand the need for such a project, many have lost faith in the council's process after what they see as a bungled attempt in 2012.
Paraparaumu resident Paul Dunmore, who lives on Marine Pde, said it would be fair to say locals had limited trust in the council to handle the issue of coastal resilience. "Coastal hazards are real. Sea level rise is real. But they need to be dealt with properly, with sensible policy, taking into account good science."
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Dunmore joined CRU in 2012, frustrated by the council's proposal to limit building and renovations in at-risk areas, based on a report by Dr Roger Shand, that was in its new district plan.
Council should be responsible for researching risks and informing the community, Dunmore said – including advising what infrastructure may be cut off and when – but the proposed restrictions went too far.
The issue was first raised in 2012, with the inclusion of predicted 50- and 100-year shorelines in the proposed district plan riling 800 property owners , who feared their valuations and insurance would be hit .
An environment court battle saw the judge rule in favour of the council , and although a further appeal in the High Court in November 2017 also fell in its favour, the information was withdrawn from the district plan and land information memorandums (LIMs)after an expert panel ruled them not robust enough .
By then, almost a third of affected owners had sold up .
A major issue residents took with the report was a disconnect between their own experiences of the coast, and the 50- to 100-year predictions.
Resident Warwick Wyatt, a retired surveyor, took matters of science into his own hands when he began measuring the accumulation of sand on the dunes at the bottom of his property in 1976 – which by his measurements over 45 years are growing at a rate of about 0.5m each year.
The report the council used for its proposed district plan suggested that the opposite of accumulation, erosion, would along the coast at rate of 0.8m per year for the next fifty years – something Wyatt just could not believe.
There were visible markers everywhere; a line of fence posts a metre high, installed in 2011, was now buried in the dunes.
He remembered jumping into the sea from the Hyderabad Shipwreck at Waitārere Beach as a boy. Now, although there's barely anything left of it, it's up on the sand dunes.
In 2012 Wyatt took his evidence to the high court in support of Mike Weir , and produced evidence that, far from eroding, 20 metres of sand had actually accreted since he began taking measurements in 1976.
A one-size-fits-all approach to erosion on the coast wouldn't cut it. "I'm all in favour of ongoing surveying," he said. "But it's wrong to impose liabilities on land based on incorrect information."
Resident and Kāpiti Climate Change Action Group member Alison Lash was a contractor at the council during the height of the backlash after 2012, coordinating responses to OIAs.
When the letters went out explaining the hazard lines, "it was like World War 3".
"CRU and others bombarded the council with OIA requests – at one stage it was one a day, and they were asking for enormous amounts of information going back years," she said.
"They had a right to all of that information, but some of them were just nuisance requests."
People's emotions took over their ability to have a rational conversation about it, she said. "The veneer over the top was that the science is terrible and you need to revisit it. Which we did, and some of it was not good enough."
The council was burnt out, and gave up. "We did hold information exchange days throughout the district, but I felt we should have done a lot more over a longer period."
But it was difficult to engage people. "People just didn't come, and when the information came out they said, 'You didn't tell us about this.'"
Sean Mallon, the council's general manager of infrastructure services, said it was understandable people were concerned about the reemergence of the research.
"Obviously your home is [the] most significant purchase that most people will make in their life, and people do get concerned when we provide that sort of information," he said.
It was "certainly better to be informed about some of those potential future hazards and challenges that our coastal community will face".
At the moment, a standard disclaimer appears on LIMs: "Information on coastal erosion and inundation hazards on the Kāpiti Coast is available on our website."
"The Council has commissioned a coastal hazard report titled "Kāpiti Coast Coastal Hazard Susceptibility and Vulnerability Assessment" from consultancy firm Jacobs", and LIMs would be updated as information became available.
Former Prime Minister and coastal resident Jim Bolger is chair of the community assessment panel, which will help act as a conduit cto council for community input, indigenous knowledge and technical expertise.
The panel was made up of six locals and six iwi representatives – including, so far, a world expert in climate science in Martin Manning, who in 2008 established Victoria University's Climate Change Research Institute, a young voice in Olivia Bird, who is pursuing a degree in ecological restoration, and former Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
"This is a panel of locals; they have a real vested interest. Some are closer to the beach than I am, some are not, but they are all coastal people. And iwi have been on the coast for centuries," Bolger said.
"I’m quite confident that we can work our way through the scientific input that we'll have from others and make a recommendation to the council."
He was confident in the council's plan. "There is not a skerrick of logic to taking some radical approach that will ignore science."
And to those concerned? "I suggest they have a deep breath until they see what we do."
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Nine years ago, Kāpiti Coast residents drew a line in the sand. Now the council is trying again to draw hazard lines of its own have 1338 words, post on www.stuff.co.nz at September 24, 2021. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.