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Coastal hazard issue to be uncoupled from earthquake process

Hon Gerry Brownlee
Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for the Environment

Hon Nicky Wagner
Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

29 September 2015 Media Statement
Coastal hazard issue to be uncoupled from fast-track earthquake recovery plan process

Plan changes affecting property owners as a consequence of future coastal hazard issues are to be dealt with as part of Christchurch City Council’s normal planning processes, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, Associate Minister Nicky Wagner and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today with Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

“These coastal planning issues relating to potential sea level rises over 100 years do not need to be fast-tracked as part of Canterbury’s earthquake recovery. This is a complex issue that is better dealt with through the Christchurch City Council’s normal plan review process. This alternative approach for dealing with coastal hazards has been developed in partnership with the Christchurch City Council and Mayor Lianne Dalziel, and recognises that the immediate priority needs to be on Christchurch’s earthquake recovery,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The coastal hazard proposals in the council’s draft plan have caused concern for communities like New Brighton, Southshore and Sumner. We should not allow our thinking to become so cautious that we block development in areas on the premise of worst case scenarios of sea level rise. We need to take the time on such far-reaching rules to rigorously test restrictions from both an economic and a risk management perspective,” Ms Wagner says.

“We are proposing both legislative change and national policy guidance on such hazards as part of our Resource Management Act reform programme. More time will also allow contestable advice and normal appeal rights to the Environment Court. It makes sense for the timing of this work to be aligned with national policy. I am satisfied that the existing plans provide adequate interim measures to deal with these risks in the immediate future,” Dr Smith says.

“This announcement will be welcomed by the thousands of Christchurch residents who were hugely affected by the planned restrictions on their property use. It will spare them the mad rush to make submissions by 16 October and the uncertainty for their communities over the already difficult earthquake recovery,” Mr Brownlee says.

Cabinet’s decision now requires the drafting of an Order in Council. This will be subject to consideration by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Review Panel. The change in scope to exclude coastal hazards from the fast-track process will be advanced as quickly as possible.

“The Government acknowledges the advocacy of local residents groups who have sought this revised approach This deferral is an opportunity for the councils and communities to re-engage and find a better way to deal with these coastal hazards risks,” the Ministers concluded.

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