OPINION: We can all see the impact to our coast of erosion, inundation, sea level rise, storm surges and slips.
Hawkes Bay's coast is vulnerable to coastal hazards which are made worse by climate change.
Modelling shows that we could see a sea level rise of up to 40cm in the next 50 years and 1.5 metres sea level rise over the next 100 years.
The different impacts along our coast are already clear to see, such as the erosion at Westshore, Haumoana, and Clifton, and inundation along Haumoana. Our coastal areas have families, schools, communities, recreational users and local business who have a connection.
I understand how important this is – I've lived in Hawke's Bay for almost 40 years, and still remember the days when the Clifton motor camp had three rows of campers by the entrance. Now there is only room for one row of tents.
We all want our coastal communities, businesses, and infrastructure to be able to deal with the effects of coastal hazards. But how do we do support our communities to become resilient? What is the extent of the risk and potential hazards? How do we identify what places need the most support? How do we fairly look after homes and infrastructure all along the coast? These are serious question the strategy is trying to answer.
The Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards Strategy 2120 has been looking at these issues since 2014, with the aim to identify and respond to the coastal hazards of erosion and inundation and the influence of sea level rise over the next 100 years.
The Strategy is at the forefront of dealing with these issues across New Zealand and around the world. While we're taking the lead, we're also facing challenges with limited guidance. We're having to make decisions about who is responsible for helping communities adapt, and who pays for it, within existing the existing regulatory framework.
We've worked with the Ministry for the Environment to develop a case study looking at the challenges to responding to coastal erosion and climate change adaptation. We also submitted to the Resource Management Act review based on our experiences, and were pleased to see the recommendations come from the RMA Review Committee for a Climate Change Adaptation Act.
This all means that we have to work through all of the technicalities and difficulties with the community, get expert advice, and talk about it with all three councils – Napier City, Hastings District, and Hawke's Bay Regional Council.
I am immensely proud of the Strategy that has been developed since 2014, thanks to the support of the community. But we are not quite there yet.
We will be consulting with the community in the next six months around formally getting the Strategy included in the Regional Council's Long-Term Plan to implement.
A bit of background.
We've been working with the community since 2014 to plan for the uncertain future. Over the last six years we've identified the extent of coastal erosion and coastal inundation hazards, developed a community decision-making framework, and developed responses based on community-led "panels".
The panels identified 100-year pathways for each section along the coast between Clifton and Tangoio. Part of the pathway for Westshore is annual renourishment, which for 2020 began along the beach in November. (This includes taking sand trapped in the Port's shipping channel and depositing this at Westshore).
For the wider strategy, we're now looking at how we plan to implement responses to hazards, based on the panels' recommendations. This means we'll engage with the wider community on design, budget, funding, and preparing for implementation over the next six months. We're about to re-engage with the community to invite their feedback on our work ahead of going to consultation.
Our focus remains on supporting our communities and implementing our response to coastal hazards.
* Jerf van Beek is the Chair of the Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards Strategy 2120 Joint Committee