The "eyes of the nation" are on Hawke's Bay councils as they move to protect the region's coastline and communities along it from an expected 1.5m sea-level rise in the next century.
The Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazard Strategy 2120 joint committee has spent more than a year developing solutions for nine coastal areas in Hawke's Bay, and are now asking three councils to begin implementing these.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council yesterday became the second, after the Hastings District Council, to endorse the recommendations and agree to commence stage four (implementation). The Napier City Council will be presented to next week.
Recommended actions for coastal areas north of Napier - Ahuriri, Pandora, Westshore, Bay View and Whirinaki - were developed by the committee's "northern panel", while the "southern panel" looked at Clifton, Te Awanga, Haumoana, and Clive.
At a council meeting yesterday panel representatives Craig Daly (northern) and Keith Newman (southern) encouraged the councils to take action, with uncertainty around how long it will be before global warming brings higher sea levels, more storms, and affects private property and public assets in the region.
"The eyes of the nation are on us, including other regional and city councils and central government. How we respond to this opportunity to protect and value our coastal edge will say a lot about us as a region," Mr Newman said.
"To get stage four across the line each council will need to show leadership, acting as if this is something they really want to see happen, rather than ticking the boxes and walking away if things get too hard."
He said stage four was "action time", and suggested each council include the report in their Long Term Plans, begin contributing to a regional fund, and establish their own group to figure out how to implement the actions.
As part of beginning stage four, the regional council yesterday agreed, in accordance with the Partner Council Long Term Plan provisions of $100,000 per year for the next 10 years.
This would include maintaining the Joint Committee, commencing the planning phase of design and budget refinement, defining cost sharing and funding options and preparing for implementation.
Mitchell Daysh director Simon Bendall, acting as project manger, said if councils agreed to move to stage four, this is where the "tricky work" would begin – including consenting, funding, and determining how the actions would be implemented.
The pathway developed for each of the nine areas was split into three terms - short (20 years), medium (20-50 years) and long (50-100 years). For each term, a course of action was chosen from nine treatments against erosion and indundation effects.
It has been found the recommendations could cost anywhere between $131 million and $286m over the next 100 years, but the potential economic loss from coastal hazards could run into the hundreds of millions - not including the social, or cultural losses.