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Speeding Up Flood Resilience Work In Hawke’s Bay

The Coalition Government is proposing an Order in Council which will make it easier for councils to perform flood resilience work at specific sites in the Hawke’s Bay, hastening the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, Environment Minister Penny Simmonds and Minister for Emergency Management and Recovery Mark Mitchell say.

“Flooding from Cyclone Gabrielle resulted in significant areas of land that require the development of new stop banks, spillways and other infrastructure to protect homes and communities from future flooding,” Mr Mitchell says.

An Order in Council under the Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Act 2023 would make changes to the Resource Management Act to streamline the resource consenting process for flood resilience work at specific sites in the Hawke’s Bay.

“This temporary change has been developed in response to a request from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Recovery Agency, demonstrating the coalition Government’s commitment to a recovery that is locally led with support from Government,” Penny Simmonds says.

“Once councils have undertaken these works, approximately 975 properties which are currently categorised as Category 2A or 2C could be recategorised as Category 1 under the Land Classification System, indicating the land is at low risk from future flooding events. The works would also protect the industrial area and Napier’s wastewater treatment plant in Awatoto,” Mr Mitchell says.

“These changes would let councils get on with the job sooner, allowing affected landowners and occupiers to get on with their lives with more certainty about the future of their homes and businesses.”

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The proposed Order in Council would only apply to consent applications lodged by councils in the Hawke’s Bay, and only at eight specific sites. These sites are in Wairoa, Whirinaki, Waiohiki, Ohiti Road/Omāhu, Pākōwhai, Havelock North, Porangahau and Awatoto.

The development of this Order in Council also delivers on the Coalition Government’s 100-day commitment to make any additional orders needed to speed up cyclone and flood recovery efforts.

Notes:

Public engagement on the proposal finishes on 18 March 2024, with more details available on the Ministry for the Environment website.

The proposed Order would come into effect by late May 2024 and would expire on 31 March 2028.

The Land Classification System categories were announced in May 2023 by then Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson. The categories are:

1. Low Risk – Repair to previous state is all that is required to manage future severe weather event risk. This means that once any flood protection near the property is repaired, the home can be rebuilt at the same site.

2. Managed Risk – Community or property-level interventions will manage future severe weather event risk. This could include the raising of nearby stop banks, improving drainage or raising the property. (Category two is split into three sub-categories as outlined in table below)

3. High Risk – Areas in the high risk category are not safe to live in because of the unacceptable risk of future flooding and loss of life. Homes in these areas should not be rebuilt on their current sites.

Category Definitions Examples 
Repair to previous state is all that is required to manage future severe weather event risk. Minor flood damage to repair but no need for significant redesign/retrofitting. 
2C Community level interventions are effective in managing future severe weather event risk. Local government repairs and enhances flood protection schemes to adequately manage the risk of future flooding events in the face of climate change effects. 
2P Property level interventions are needed to manage future severe weather event risk, including in tandem with community level interventions. Property specific measures are necessary e.g., improved drainage, raising houses is necessary. Benefits accrue to property owners but some may face affordability issues. 
2A Potential to fall within 2C/2P but significant further assessment required. Interventions may be required / possible but insufficient information to provide initial categorisation (these may subsequently move between "2" categories or to categories 1 / 3). 
Future severe weather event risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated. In some cases some current land uses may remain acceptable, while for others there is an intolerable risk of injury or death. In the face of enhanced climate risks the property may face unacceptable risk of future flooding. Other property could be subject to unstable land that poses an ongoing risk.

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