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Waihi Beach seawall approved

Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Conservation

5 May 2008 Media Release

Waihi Beach seawall approved

A consent to construct a rock seawall at Waihi Beach has been granted by Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick.

“Seawalls are never the ideal solution to managing coastal erosion. However, where existing buildings are threatened by erosion, seawalls may be necessary in the short term, while longer term solutions are developed and implemented,” Steve Chadwick said.

The Minister was commenting following her decision on an application from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council to build a seawall at Waihi Beach.

“In the long term, we must restore and work with the natural processes on the coast. In reaching my decision I have very carefully considered the report provided to me by the Environment Court.”

Steve Chadwick accepted the conditions recommended by the Court but required that two additional conditions be included in the consent.

“The rock seawall is not the long term solution to coastal hazards at Waihi Beach, so by 2020 the Council must undertake comprehensive investigations into the best ways to manage the long term effects of erosion. In dong this, it will be important that the Council works with the community to come up with a long term solution.

“The second condition requires the Council to signpost public access.

"I am aware that the proposal is controversial and there are many strongly-held views. However, my role as consent authority for restricted coastal activity applications is constrained by the Resource Management Act (RMA). The law restricts my consideration to matters in the Environment Court report. To consider any new issues I would have to seek new recommendations from the Court.

"Local residents have felt strongly about this issue and many have written to me. I am satisfied that the issues they raised were either outside the bounds of the RMA, had already been considered by the Court, or highlighted the controversial nature of the proposal.”

The Minister was only able to make decisions about activities below high tide mark on the beach. That only included part of the seawall. The Court had already granted consent for those parts of the seawall above high tide. The decision on whether the seawall is built rests with the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.


Background information

Under the Resource Management Act the Minister of Conservation is the consent authority for restricted coastal activity applications. These are applications that have, or are likely to have, an irreversible or significant adverse effect on the coastal marine area, for example large reclamations, seawalls and dredging operations.

The Minister receives a recommendation on the application from the regional council or, in cases where the council recommendation is appealed, from the Environment Court.

This seawall will protect some 1050 metres of the shoreline of Waihi Beach from coastal erosion. The shoreline to be protected fronts residential development at The Loop and Shaw Road, Waihi Beach.

Waihi Beach has a long history of coastal erosion. A dilapidated seawall some 1600m in length is currently in place and will in part be replaced by the seawall, and by dune enhancement work along the shoreline to the north and south of the new seawall. The District Council also proposes to erect training groynes at Three Mile Creek which discharges at Waihi Beach.

The Minister’s decision follows a recommendation from the Environment Court that approval to the seawall should be granted on a short to medium term basis.


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