SmartGrowth intends to add tsunami risks to land information reports - sparking fears that it could impact on property prices and sales.
Tauranga property developers are trying to stop the move which would add the information to reports used by people to help them decide whether to buy a house. They have opposed the proposal in the Western Bay's urban growth masterplan, SmartGrowth, to "provide tsunami related information on LIMs, PIMs, resource consents and building consents".
The issue of the addition of tsunami risks surfaced at yesterday's public hearings on the review of the plan. It followed the release of a report commissioned by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council which said a massive earthquake along the southern part of the Kermadec Trench could kill up to 900 Papamoa people. It was a worst-case scenario for a 13m-high tsunami with a 50-minute arrival time.
Developers' spokesman Jeff Fletcher told the Bay of Plenty Times that the LIM proposal had implications for thousands of developed low-lying coastal properties in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, and would flow on to the big developments planned for Papamoa East. The Property Developers Forum argued uncertainties surrounded the size of the Kermadec Trench earthquake scenarios used in research. Until further scientific knowledge was gained on the scenarios, it was not appropriate to put tsunami-related information on PIMs and LIMs, Mr Fletcher said.
He said it would be correct to say that developers did not want to have it on property titles. "That would go without saying, but the action we have submitted on applied to developed growth areas." He highlighted the section of GNS Science's tsunami report which said the calculated return period for the tsunami scenarios were strongly conservative and represented the lower limit of possible return times. "True return periods may be considerably longer."
GNS Science said return periods ranged from 50 years for tsunamis originating in South America to 800 years for tsunamis originating in parts of the Bay of Plenty. Between these two, the average return period for the remaining 10 scenarios was 390 years. The report also said that a tsunami which caused an intolerable level of deaths would require either the entire rupture or huge slips on the Kermadec Trench.
"It may be the case that earthquakes required to create these scenarios do not occur, but the possibility cannot presently be ruled out." The study authors said they were dependent on imperfect data and the variability was large.
After the meeting, Realty Services chief executive Ross Stanway said the plan would cause a drop in the value of houses and make them harder to sell.
"I think the question that needs to be asked is, how many 100 year events should we be putting on property files? Why don't we put terrorist attacks and strike by lightning? Where does it stop? What is the need to be going down this path? It would cause people to hesitate to take factors into account that might not happen."
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby emphasised the recommendation was only a draft but agreed it could have an impact on the property industry. "It is a big step. It may well have an impact on property values and people's decision to live in a particular area."
The SmartGrowth committee will make a decision early next month.
SmartGrowth is a collaboration between the Western Bay's three councils as well as tangata whenua.