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Natural Hazards Under the Spotlight

Natural Hazards Under the Spotlight

Dunedin, 18 June 2014 – How Dunedin manages natural hazards such as landslides, flooding, storm surge and sea level rise is soon to be discussed with residents.

The Dunedin City Council is preparing a new District Plan, the second generation District Plan (2GP). The ultimate goal of the Plan is the sustainable management of Dunedin’s natural and physical resources.

Under the Resource Management Act, the DCC is responsible for managing land use to avoid or mitigate the effects of natural hazards. The DCC is also required to consider the effects of climate change and keep a record of natural hazards.

DCC City Development Policy Planner Sally Dicey says a technical assessment of the risks has been prepared by the Otago Regional Council and DCC staff have used this to develop a proposed approach for managing land use and development in at-risk areas. This approach, or preferred option, would see natural hazards managed through a set of hazard overlay zones.

The hazard overlays would set out what activities and development would be permitted, the standards for some types of development, what may be assessed on a case-by-case basis through resource consent, and what would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances or would be prohibited. Approximately 8600 of Dunedin’s about 46,600 houses in residential zones are affected in one way or another by the proposed overlay zones.

DCC Planning and Regulatory Committee Chair Cr David Benson-Pope says this is an important opportunity for those affected and the wider community to have input into the process and the Council wants to hear people’s views before any decisions are made.

“Local knowledge is very valuable in refining the extent of areas at risk from hazards and feedback from our community will be used to refine and improve the maps. We also want to hear from the community whether our approach has found the right balance between enabling people to use their property and our responsibility to protect people and property from risk.”

Ms Dicey says the DCC’s preferred approach to managing risks from hazards is based on considering the overall risk, in terms of frequency and effect.

For example, in high risk areas, building a new house, commercial accommodation, an early childhood centre or a retirement village would be considered a non-complying activity.

In moderate risk areas, these activities would require resource consent.

In lower risk areas, these same activities would be permitted, but with development standards, such as requiring a house to have a set minimum floor level, or to be relocatable.

Across all these risk areas, less sensitive activities such as farming and recreation activities would be permitted.

Different areas have different levels of risk depending on factors such as topography, or how close they are to waterways and flood protection works.

Ms Dicey says, “It’s important to remember the proposed changes mainly affect new development. In general, existing activities will carry on as usual.”

The key priorities for the DCC are:
• Protecting people
• Maintaining key infrastructure needed for the health and safety of the community, such as wastewater treatment systems
• Minimising the risk to property

Hazard overlay zones are proposed for floodplains, low-lying coastal communities and hills prone to landslides. This includes areas such as Brighton, Karitane, Macandrew Bay, Waikouaiti, Waitati and parts of the Taieri Plain.

In terms of the harbourside and south city area, the 2GP preferred option is to manage risks through the underlying zone of the area, rather than through a hazard overlay zone. This is because the area exposed to natural hazards is large and highly developed.

The major issues for this area are caused by the area being low lying and having a high water table. The challenges created by these issues may worsen over time due to climate change.

Public consultation on the preferred option for managing the natural hazard risks runs from 24 June to 1 August. As part of the consultation process, 11 presentations will be held around the wider city so staff can explain the risks and the proposed hazard overlay zones answer questions and receive feedback.

For maps, FAQs and further details, visit www.dunedin.govt.nz/2gp.

ENDS

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