We’re preparing for a changing coastline
Coastlines by their very nature are constantly changing – daily, weekly, yearly and over decades. Those with lifelong connections to the Kāpiti district will have memories of our coast both eroding and building up over the years.
It’s clear coastal communities like ours are facing more frequent, and more damaging natural hazards such as coastal erosion and inundation (flooding by the sea) due to climate change. This is because global warming causes polar ice to melt, ocean waters to expand and sea levels to rise. It creates more frequent and extreme storms, and unseasonal weather.
Over time the increased frequency and significance of change to our coastline has become the ‘new normal’. This means some places are becoming more vulnerable to regular incursions by the sea.
Council’s primary concern is for community infrastructure and assets like roads, pipes and parks that are being damaged more often by increasingly severe weather. Eventually, even ‘new normal’ high tides will cause regular damage. The cost of repairs falls on us all as they’re paid out of rates.
We need to figure out whether it’s worth continually paying for repairs or adapt in other ways. There are several options – more dune planting, seawalls, raised floors, relocatable buildings, or changes to where we build. There could be future technological solutions we can’t even imagine today. We don’t know yet which options we should or could take. But the longer we delay acting, the more constrained and expensive our options get.
In Kāpiti we have faced coastal hazards in the past and understand the issues very well – but there’s a saying: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. We need scientifically sound information about what is happening to our coastline and what changes we can expect in future.
Like other coastal communities around the country we are using local knowledge along with central government guidance and the latest national and international science to help us prepare to deal with coastal hazards.
More information will soon be available in a report we’ve commissioned called ‘Coastal hazard susceptibility and vulnerability assessment for the Kāpiti Coast District coastline’. The methodology for the assessment was published on our website and included in LIMs (Land Information Memoranda) from June 2021. Read it at www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/coastal-science.
The assessment is by coastal engineering and environmental experts Jacobs New Zealand Ltd who have undertaken similar work here and internationally. It was peer reviewed by Greater Wellington Regional Council and coastal engineering experts Beca Ltd. Jacobs also met with critics Coastal Ratepayers United (CRU) to discuss their views on the methodology in late 2021.
We’ve set up the Takutai Kāpiti project to help Council tap into community views and values before any decisions are made. Community input and advice will be led by the newly established Coastal Advisory Panel (CAP), supported by but independent of Council. The process and the panel were co-designed by local and regional council staff, Tangata Whenua, and key critics of Council’s previous approach to planning for coastal changes – CRU and North Ōtaki Beach Residents Group.
The science report is just one input of many. The project will bring together good science, economic and social research, expert planning, indigenous knowledge, and community values. It involves identifying the problem and looking for solutions together. But there’s been a lot of disinformation circulating. Here, we give you the facts.
Takutai Kāpiti coastal project is bringing the community on board
We set up the Takutai Kāpiti project in 2019 to work with our community on coastal hazard risks and our options for adapting to coastal changes resulting from sea-level rise.
Council collaborated with CRU and others to co-design the independent Coastal Advisory Panel process for community input to the project. In 2021 a recruitment agency shortlisted several highly qualified local applicants. The final panel are all Kāpiti residents chaired by former Prime Minister Jim Bolger.
Like everything else, the panel’s activities have been delayed by COVID-19. They’re investigating how to work with the community in 2022. However they can, the panel will be engaging directly with the community to gauge and include your views.
The project and CAP are publishing their meeting agendas, minutes, and presentations. See these and sign up for regular project updates at Takutai Kapiti - Have Your Say.
Meet the panel at www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/coastal-adaptation.
We all pay for coastal damage
Insurers and banks around the world are taking a close interest in the impacts of climate change. They want Local Authorities to take a long-term view and be proactive in looking at how our communities should adapt to coastal changes. Anticipating and planning for sea-level rise reduces costs and our collective risk.
We all pay through rates when Council repairs roads, pipes, or parks that are damaged by coastal hazards. Increased costs of repairing and maintaining services like electricity and gas are passed on by suppliers to customers. With frequent damage properties become uninsurable and banks refuse to lend. Premiums rise for everyone to compensate for increased claims.
For questions about property values, insurance or lending talk to a valuer, or your insurer and bank.
Read the Insurance Council’s position statement on climate change on Takutai Kapiti - Have Your Say.
Homeowners and buyers need to know about hazards
For much of the past decade, all land information memoranda (LIMs) issued by Council have had links to information about natural hazards that affect the district, including flooding, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
Since June 2021, LIMs have included a link to Jacob’s initial report on our website which outlines in detail the methods it is using to develop its assessment of our vulnerability and susceptibility to coastal hazards. Once the final report is released, we are required by law to include this information in newly issued LIMs.
Prospective buyers and existing property owners are entitled to the full picture to do their due diligence pre-purchase or when deciding if they want to invest in new buildings or renovations.
The facts about building
Placing information on a LIM does not automatically change or restrict your ability to build on or renovate a property.
If a property is identified as subject to natural hazards which can't be mitigated for the building or the land, this is noted on the property title in the form of a section 72 notification. Council officers will only consider hazards that are likely to occur during the life of the building work covered by a building consent.
Many parts of our coastline already face restrictions on building and alterations. ‘No build’ and ‘relocatable build’ lines that have been on Council’s GIS maps since 1999. Look under the Operative District Plan 2021 GIS map on the Council website, tick District Plan Miscellaneous, and untick all sub-layers except for District Plan 1999 Features.
Talk to our Building team if you have any questions about a specific project.