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Expert coastal panel visits Kāpiti

Media Statement

Expert coastal panel visits Kāpiti

9 December, 2013

World renowned coastal experts who visited Kāpiti last week say they will leave with a better understanding of coastal hazards affecting the district and the concerns of coastal residents.

The four-member panel was asked by Council to review the science relating to coastal hazard assessments after it was challenged by coastal residents, whose properties are affected by new coastal hazard lines.

Panel Chair James Carley says the panel had a busy week which started with a tour of the entire coast.

“In a general sense the issues facing Kāpiti are common to coastal communities throughout the developed world. However, the Kāpiti coastline does have unique features: It is an open coastline in the lee of a significant island; it has no headlands and is intersected by numerous streams. The coastline also varies from north to south.”

The coastal experts on the panel are specialists in their fields and highly sought after by communities worldwide assessing coastal hazards and the likely impacts of climate change.

The panel members are:

• Professor Paul Komar Emeritus Professor of Oceanography at Oregon State University. He is a specialist in beach processes and sedimentation and has been studying the effects of storms and climate change on the west coast of the United States. He recently advised the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on coastal hazards.

• James Carley, a coastal engineer from the Water Research Laboratory of the University of New South Wales. He has studied beaches throughout Australia, the South Pacific, South-East Asia and the Middle East. These studies have involved a review of historical events, prediction of future response to major storms, climate change and sea level rise, and beach response to structures, such as seawalls. James is also a surfer and surf life saver in his spare time.
• Professor Paul Kench from the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. Professor Kench is a coastal geomorphologist, specialising in coastal processes, medium-term coastal change, gravel beach processes and the application of coastal science to support coastal management.
• Dr Robert Davies is a statistician from Wellington firm Statistics Research Associates Limited. He was appointed to the panel, on the suggestion of coastal submitters, to look at issues involving the statistical analysis.

As well as examining the coastline, the panel spent a day listening to the concerns of coastal residents who have made submissions outlining concerns with the science used to develop the coastal provisions of the Proposed District Plan. Mr Carley says the presentations were impressive.

“The submitter’s material was extremely well prepared and of a very high standard and their level of understanding of the issues and risks was very good. It was also very much appreciated to be able to hear the personal experience and observations of long term coastal residents.”

The panel also spent two days meeting with local and international experts, some of whom were engaged by local residents.

“The two days of discussions with various experts were extremely constructive and have given the panel a lot to digest and consider as it deliberates over the coming weeks.”

The panel’s report is expected in March.


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