Green light for Westshore coastal protection

By Victoria White

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The structure will run along the edge of the council's reserve land, ending in a wave spending gravel/limestone beach at the Westshore end where existing large concrete blocks are. PHOTO/SUPPLIED.
The structure will run along the edge of the council's reserve land, ending in a wave spending gravel/limestone beach at the Westshore end where existing large concrete blocks are. PHOTO/SUPPLIED.

Although the green light has been given for a proposed seawall at Westshore, residents hope it will not suffer the same delays as the previously proposed breakwater.

Yesterday the Hawke's Bay Regional Council issued required consents to Napier City Council for a new coastal protection structure at erosion-prone Westshore Beach.

It is hoped construction will begin early next year. For residents of the Napier suburb this has "been a long time coming".

The existing seawall at Whakarire Avein Westshore, built in 1994, was not considered robust enough as a long-term structure to protect the area.

Resource consent applications were lodged for an H-shaped breakwater at Westshore in 2009, and 2013. The 2013 application attracted a large number of submissions - most in opposition.

Following this, a pre-hearing meeting was held in July 2014 to discuss views of submitters, and various concerns and issues with the proposal.

After engineering advisers for both councils jointly investigated other options for protecting the area, while not impacting on the surf breaks, the design of the proposed structure was modified so that "it would be further landward, and not project out as far into the Coastal Marine Area or on to Rangatira Reef".

It will see the structure run along the edge of the council's reserve land, "culminating in a wave spending gravel/limestone beach at the Westshore end where the existing large concrete blocks are currently situated".

Council development planner James Minehan said the regional council's decision was great news.

"We've consulted for a year on this project and put a lot of work into it to date. I think the result is a really positive one," he said.

A detailed design would be developed after the appeal process was completed.

"We'll be keeping in close contact with local residents during all phases of this process," Mr Minehan said. "Their concerns - mostly around the timeline for the build, the building programme and the subsequent landscaping - are our concerns and we will be keeping them in the picture as we move forward."

Larry Dallimore - a long-time campaigner on Westshore erosion - said it was satisfying to get to this stage.

After the initial consent was applied for in 2009, Mr Dallimore said: "It took five long years to convince NCC engineers and their consultants that the proposed offshore structure was extravagant, expensive and an unnecessary blight on the coastal environment.

"As the only objector to the engineering issues, because erosion would be redirected to another section of beach, it is very satisfying to get to this stage after another two years," he said.

Mr Dallimore said with funds allocated, there was no excuse for the council to "further delay a project that Niwa coastal engineers deemed urgent in 1999".

Although there had been no urgency from council over the past seven years, Mr Dallimore, the new Ahuriri ward councillor, said he hoped this would be not the case going forward.

Westshore Beach Residents Association chairman Richard Karn said they had not been too involved in discussions with council on the matter, but it would be nice to see it built.

"It's been a long time coming."

The appeal period is now open for 15 working days.

Although the initial H-shaped breakwater design was budgeted for at a figure of $1.6m, the total cost to build the new structure was still unknown, but would be more economical to build, "due to its more simplistic design".

Work is due to begin in the first half of next year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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