Waikato District Council is taking a more detailed approach to managing natural hazards such as river flooding, coastal inundation and erosion, land instability, and wildfires.
The aim is to roll out a consistent approach to hazards across the Waikato and former-Franklin districts.
In announcing the opening this week of submissions for Stage 2 of the Proposed Waikato District Plan, the council said recent high waves on the west coast brought home the impacts of our increasingly unpredictable climate.
"These natural events are becoming more and more common, and the recent work done by Waikato District Council as part of the Proposed District Plan looks to manage the impact these events have on people, their property and infrastructure," the council said
The review of the Operative Waikato District Plan is being done in two stages. Stage 1 covered all topics other than natural hazards and the impacts of climate change and was open for submissions in 2018. The council's independent hearings panel is currently hearing these submissions.
Stage 2 completes the review of the Operative District Plan. This latest stage of the plan review covers river flooding, flood ponding, coastal inundation and erosion, mine subsidence in Huntly East, land instability, wildfire and liquefaction.
This revised information is based on new research, technical assessments and modelling of natural hazards in the Waikato District and will roll out a consistent approach to hazards across the Waikato and former-Franklin districts, the council said.
"Everyone in the district will be affected by this part of the plan to varying degrees," the council said.
Properties at risk of flooding, ponding, coastal inundation and erosion or mine subsidence are identified on the planning maps which can be found at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/stage2maps.
The proposal is that these areas will be subject to specific policies and rules that relate to the hazard risks that are present.
High-risk hazard areas are areas where it would not be sensible to allow new development and subdivision. Because of the uncertainty around natural hazard events and the changing climate, the council has also mapped land that has the potential to be impacted by natural hazards in the next 100 years.
The council said the proposed rules don't make land worthless or mean it can't be developed, but they make sure that development considers the potential risks and how they can be avoided or reduced – for example, this could mean building a re-locatable house so it can be moved in the future if the potential hazard becomes an issue.
"We are also proposing some general rules that will apply to all properties in the district that will help manage the impacts of liquefaction, land instability and fire risk," the council said.
Planning and Policy manager Jim Ebenhoh said the council was aware that it's not popular to put lines on a map to identify hazard areas.
"We want people to remember that not only are we required to do this, but we need to. It's the right thing to do. We need to ensure that houses are built in relatively safe places.
"We have examples in the district where natural hazards are affecting buildings including people's homes, like in Port Waikato where the community is currently dealing with coastal erosion. One bach has already been removed due to the risk."
"We need to think about the impacts of changing climate and we need to manage land use and development in order to protect people and their property from these natural hazards," Ebenhoh said
"We know our district has a history of flooding because the Waikato River runs through it. If you've lived in this district for long enough, you will know if your property has been prone to flooding.
"You will be able to imagine what a 1-in-100 year flood would look like and the impacts it would have on your property. I urge you to have a look at the maps and tell us what you think.
"If you don't agree with what you see, tell us. Make sure your voice is heard," Mr Ebenhoh says.
Properties included in a proposed hazard map area will receive a letter detailing what this means to them and their property.
Have your say
Submissions close at 5pm on Wednesday September 23. More information: www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/sayit
The council is holding drop-in sessions where residents can ask questions and get help with making a submission. These are at:
• Huntly: Tuesday, August 25, 3pm-6.30pm, Riverside Room, Civic Centre, Main St, Huntly
• Tuakau: Wednesday, August 26, 3pm-6.30pm, Tuakau Memorial Hall, 70 George St, Tuakau
• Ngaruawahia: Thursday, August 27, 3pm-6.30pm, Ngaruawahia Memorial Hall, 5 Galileo St, Ngaruawahia
• Tamahere: Tuesday, September 1, 3pm-6.30pm, Tamahere Community Centre, 21 Devine Rd, Tamahere
• Raglan: Wednesday, September 2, 3pm-6.30pm, Raglan Hall Supper Room, next to the Town Hall, 41 Bow St, Raglan
• Port Waikato: Sunday, September 6, 10am-2.30pm, Community Hub (new building)