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Cost of retreating from Hawke’s Bay coast put at $2 billion, but who pays is not decided

Posted on July 19, 2022

A report on the ‘’planned retreat’’ of coastal properties in Hawke’s Bay puts the cost over the next 100 years at about $2 billion, but does not say who would bear the cost.

Consultants Tonkin and Taylor completed the report for the Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards Strategy joint committee, charged with looking at how Napier and Hastings will deal with coastal erosion and inundation.

Tonkin and Taylor use the term ‘’planned retreat’’ instead of ‘’managed retreat’’ as it relates to “the proactive, planned and coordinated consideration of the movement and rebuilding of communities well in advance”.

The report provides guidance on what ‘’planned retreat’’ might look like if nothing else was done to protect the coast from coastal erosion and inundation.

It puts the number of potentially impacted private properties over the next 20 years at 106, with a capital value of more than $55 million. Over the next 100 years that increased to 960 private properties and more than $757m.

Assuming that the losses would be accounted for and that other subdivision areas within the bay could be developed to house those people retreating from the coast, the total cost over the next 100 years would be around $2b. That includes the cost of planning, accounting for private property losses, active retreat, and the cleanup of abandoned properties.

“However, how funding is attributed is a public funding matter and is not considered in this report. It is also recognised that there is no legal compulsion that requires local government organisations to purchase any property,” the report states.

The report said it used high-level cost estimates that came with “a significant margin of uncertainty”.

The report noted that there was “a range of potential sites close to most of the areas affected by coastal erosion and inundation that could be established for affected members of those communities to move to”, and gives the example of people living at the suburbs of Westshore and Ahuriri moving to a subdivision development at Bay View.

“Under a scenario of planned retreat, it is anticipated that, where practicable, councils would aim to facilitate the construction of an equivalent number of houses within each community area affected to maintain the population size and provide additional options for the displaced population,” the report said.

It said there were several ways that planned retreat of private property could be undertaken, all of which “will require some form of incentive or pressure”.

The report doesn’t recommend any particular option, but lists them as property acquisition, planning provisions, signalling (eg local government signalling to residents their intentions to reduce investment in area and subsequently residents can then decide when to relocate or abandon their property), and withdrawal of Insurance”.

The impacts of coastal erosion in the Napier-Hastings area is most evident at Haumoana.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s group manager for asset management, Chris Dolley, said the report “gives the community information needed to make decisions”.

“This report gives us a much clearer picture of what might be involved in a planned retreat response, meaning we can better compare different options to manage coastal hazards in Hawke’s Bay,” Dolley said.

He noted the report did not describe how future costs should be apportioned to landowners, councils, or the managers of infrastructure assets, and that options in the report, including the purchase of properties, had not been proposed or discussed at council level.

regional council proposal asking who should take charge of adapting to coastal hazards between Clifton and Tangoio is currently open and running until July 31.

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