Submissions Close Soon on TCDC Mangrove Bill

I have just sent away my Submission to Parliament’s Select Committee on the ludicrous Thames Coromandel District Council Local Bill in which they seek the unprecedented power to rip out mangroves anywhere they like without a resource consent.

You can make a submission here – please do so. Submissions close on 23 February.

Forest and Bird have a submission form here

I suspect the Select Committee does not want to hear argument for and against mangroves. But they will be making a recommendation to Parliament as to whether the existing law under the RMA is sufficient to deal with these issues. In other words, talk about the process, rather than the merits of mangrove removal or retention.

the main points I made it are –

if this Bill were passed it will allow the councils to ignore

  • an international treaty – Ramsar,
  • the highest level planning law – the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement,
  • the RMA and every other law that applies to the coastal environment, and even their own District Plan

it would set a totally unworkable precedent.  If passed many other councils in the country will be rushing out a local Bill to advance their particular pet project and circumvent the RMA.  The result – utter chaos.

the existing laws are actually working fine. Consents have been granted for removal of mangroves under the RMA in the Whangamata harbour and elsewhere

the so-called “community concern” about mangroves is overstated. Since the January 5 storm surge and Thames flooding, people have come to realise that mangroves provide a highly effective buffer against storm surges and sea-level rise, and are wanting the mangroves retained

the Council has shown its bias on the issue and cannot be trusted to independently assess these issues

there would be no appeal rights – the Council is setting up a kangaroo court as judge and jury

the Bill is simplistic — it deals with the effect but not the cause of mangrove expansion

the issues are highly complex – the councils do not have the resources or technical expertise to properly assess these issues

The Select Committee should recommend to  Parliament that the Bill be ditched and not proceed any further.

An interesting article on the Bill on the Newsroom website. It is extraordinary the lengths the TCDC have gone to prevent Forest and Bird Society getting access under the Official Information Act to its internal correspondence and legal advice about this Bill.  More here 



Why Storm Surges – Coastal Flooding Will Occur More Frequently

One of the least understood impacts of climate change and sea level rise is the greatly increased frequency of extreme storm surges and coastal flooding like we saw on Jan 5 and February 1.  Many people still mistakenly rely on their vague knowledge of infrequent past sea flooding events to predict what may happen in the future.  Continue reading “Why Storm Surges – Coastal Flooding Will Occur More Frequently”

Climate Change Kudos For Council

I have been a strong critic of the Thames-Coromandel District Council’s approach to planning for climate change and sea-level rise. But today the Mayor and Council deserve some real kudos for agreeing to promptly adopt the Government’s projection scenarios for sea-level rise in their 2018 – 2028 Long Term Plan.

“A potential sea-level rise of up to 1.88m by 2150 will be taken into account for all major infrastructure projects proposed as part of our Council’s 2018-2028 Long Term Plan (LTP).” – Mayor Sandra Goudie

Continue reading “Climate Change Kudos For Council”

Swimming to the Swimming Pool?

$21M Thames Aquatic Centre Proposal – Will Thames Coromandel Council Comply with the Latest Government Sea Level Rise Guidelines?

A new sub-regional aquatic centre is proposed within Thames Township with a price tag of around $21M.  The Thames Coromandel District Council has commissioned a report from Visitor Solutions which nominates three preferred locations – Beach Road opposite Prices Foundry, Rhodes Park, and Airport South at Totara.  All of these sites are on the Thames foreshore on land subject to substantial sea flooding under even modest sea-level rise scenarios.  Will TCDC comply with new Government coastal hazard sea level rise guidelines which rule out these coastal locations?  How come this Report was commissioned without instruction to review and apply these new 2017 Guidelines, the previous 2008 version or all of the other readily available data on the sea flooding threat to these sites?  Continue reading “Swimming to the Swimming Pool?”

January 5 Storm Surge and Sea Flooding. – What Did We Learn?

What was the most important lesson from the January 5 sea flood?  We got a timely warning as to what to expect when sea levels rise further and faster, and these extreme events become ever more frequent.   But will we heed those warnings?  Continue reading “January 5 Storm Surge and Sea Flooding. – What Did We Learn?”