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Promotion of sea wall simplistic and parochial

 |  Maureen McGill  | 
The Informer’s promotion of a seawall for a few coastal properties is simplistic and parochial. It’s as if only Buffalo Beach has coastal hazards when every coastal community has them.

TCDC’s Shoreline consultants say 145 peninsula coastal locations require capital works for hazard “protection”.  Seawalls for just 7 of these local communities will cost $1.2 billion.  Now scale that nationwide around New Zealand’s 15,000 km coastline. (Netherlands has just 451 km, so a bogus comparison) That’s a fiscal black hole too huge for any government. Our small communities will miss out on government seawall funding.

Seawall costs will fall on all district ratepayers.  Sensible ratepayers who heeded climate science will have to subsidise a minority of beachfront owners who ignored three decades of warnings about rising sea levels and increased hazard risk, including from Council in LIM reports, building/resource consents and land titles.  We need personal responsibility, not ratepayer bailouts for wrong private property choices.

TCDC’s consultants propose a 6.4-metre-high rock barrier encircling Whitianga costing $342 million.  So, goodbye to sea views and beach/estuary amenities.  The community’s connection to the coast will be walled off, and Whitianga’s coastal visitor appeal – gone burger.

Even then, we’re not truly protected.  Seawalls will routinely fail when tsunamis and increasingly frequent extreme storms strike, leaving us clinging to the illusion of safety.

In many places, people will have to retreat.  Some may get capped buyouts if parties in Parliament can agree on the criteria, (but probably not for holiday homes).

Contrary to The Informer article, there are no quick or cheap fixes to the climate crisis.


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