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KCDC’s District Plan needs urgent fixing to comply with law


Kāpiti Coast District Council’s (KCDC) ‘Takutai Kāpiti: Climate Change and our Coast Summit’ to be held on Sunday 8 March may not be sufficiently focused to advance public understanding of what KCDC needs to do to fix the District Plan.

Coastal Ratepayers United (CRU) and representatives of other community groups have been in discussions with KCDC about a community-led process to develop the required and missing coastal hazard provisions for the District Plan. The coastal hazard provisions, which were withdrawn on 24 July 2014, have not yet been replaced.

CRU chairperson, Paul Dunmore, says this process is now seriously overdue.

“Currently, Kāpiti Coast District Council’s District Plan does not meet the legal requirement to include coastal hazard provisions in accordance with the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) 2010.

“In 2012, when KCDC notified the Proposed District Plan, KCDC did not undertake the promised community consultation on the draft plan. Recently, KCDC committed itself to a community-led process, and CRU was very pleased to have begun working with the Council on this.

“We agreed it would be a good idea to get wider community input, and that a public information day would be a good way of finding people who would be prepared to make the time commitment to contribute to the process.

“We have been acting in good faith with KCDC to get wider community input only to be blindsided by Council.

“Late last year two meetings with CRU and representatives of other community groups to advance this process were cancelled by KCDC at short notice.

“KCDC followed this with an announcement it would be holding a wide-ranging conference and community event about a conversation on the challenges climate change will bring to our coastline. CRU was informed the day the day the ‘summit’ was publicly announced.

“It’s not clear that the ‘summit’, which is positioned as the start of a response to KCDC’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’, gives any priority to the process to develop the required and missing coastal hazard provisions for the District Plan”, says Mr Dunmore.

“The speakers have been chosen by KCDC without consulting ourselves and other community groups. We would like to see, for example, the inclusion of experts who have good and accurate knowledge of the specific features of our coast, such as the sand movements over time. This sort of information is important for understanding how the community and the Council should react to the uncertain local challenges.

“Needless to say we are extremely disappointed by the Council’s unilateral actions – it looks like a return to the old KCDC non-consultative ways of 2012.”


Background

Coastal Ratepayers United, Inc (CRU) was incorporated in 2012 in response to the coastal hazard provisions of Kāpiti Coast District Council’s (KCDC’s) Proposed District Plan (PDP), and the imposition of risk statements on the Land Information Memorandums (LIMs) of coastal properties which went beyond what the evidence supported. Most of CRU’s members are ratepayers living on the Kāpiti Coast.

Legal action and political action supported by CRU was successful in getting the LIM information fixed and succeeded in getting KCDC to appoint scientific and planning panels to review the PDP and its processes.

The science panel found that the coastal hazard information used for the PDP and the LIMs was not fit for purpose, and the planning panel advised that the PDP was flawed to such an extent that KCDC should either withdraw the Plan and start again or try to fix it through the hearings process. In 2014, KCDC withdrew all coastal hazard provisions from the PDP, with a promise to develop suitable new provisions by way of variation to the proposal. This was not done and now KCDC is initiating a community-led process to develop the required and missing coastal hazard provisions for the District Plan.

CRU has been able to resolve a series of problems caused by KCDC over the past few years. These include:
• A High Court ruling that the coastal hazard information that KCDC had placed on property LIMs was insufficiently reliable for that purpose. KCDC revised the wording.
• An expert scientific panel appointed at CRU’s request concluded that the coastal hazard lines in the proposed district plan should not be used for that purpose. KCDC withdrew the coastal hazard provisions from the current District Plan.
• CRU obtained a declaration from the Environment Court that the withdrawal of coastal hazard provisions from the District Plan was done in a way that changed the meaning of other parts of the plan, which is unlawful. KCDC subsequently made further changes to the District Plan to correct the errors.

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