Planning for Rising Sea Levels – Not!

A feature of this storm was the presence on the high tide line of large volumes of peat in the Esplanade Reserve.

A feature of this storm was the presence on the high tide line of large volumes of peat in the Esplanade Reserve.

The Structure Plan for Point Wells was a long time in the consultation process but ultimately produced a logical plan approved by the community in the settlement. This plan avoided increased development close to the coast and most importantly provided good pedestrian access to the water with a broad strip of protective, grassed reserve between the sea and proposed development.

Even before the final Plan approval the RDC planning staff were busily changing the content at the behest of those wishing to make substantial money from development. As a consequence the developer of Sandpiper Avenue and its environs was permitted to retain the Eastern property boundary permitting houses to be built right on the foreshore. This in spite of public opposition and repeated appeals to the staff advising that much of the existing Esplanade Reserve was completely under water at high tide. The coastal area fronting the new development has one of the few remaining examples of original coastal vegetation. The developer has enhanced this by further planting and construction of a board walk which currently crosses the reserve and ends in the harbour.

At a Civil Defence meeting we were informed that the Council has no intention of paying any attention to the new inundation plans (due on-line at the end of April) as long as property prices in the hazardous areas are maintained! So developers can profit now and will be nowhere to be found when these properties are inundated in the future.

The recent storm highlighted this folly – as did the earlier King Tide event. After the storm there was extensive evidence of inundation of the Esplanade Reserves on the Eastern edge of Point Wells and Omaha Flats. In at least one area the water had reached across the 20+ metre Reserve to within 1 metre of a private property boundary. There is also growing evidence that these Reserves are steadily and permanently being taken over by the tide.

A feature of this storm was the presence on the high tide line of large volumes of peat. A proportion of this peat probably comes from erosion of areas of the coastline which have been stripped of protective vegetation’ However it is inevitable to conclude that a quantity must come from the extensive disturbance and stockpiling of peat at the development site close to the foreshore as this area, like all of Point Wells relies on open drains to the sea. The future of Point Wells must be in doubt but the Council seems oblivious to the problem as storm activity increases and rising sea levels make much of this peninsula uninhabitable within 50 years.

The increasing size of developments and the extensive land disturbance are a serious threat to the viability of the Whangateau Estuary. During major earthworks opposite the Country Park I noted quantities of muddy water evading the inadequate filters and pouring down the roadside drains to the estuary. A complaint to the Council resulted in two more straw bales being added! Further development on the corner of Takatu Road and Leigh Road just before the wet season means more mud in the estuary exacerbated by spraying and denuding roadside drains which provide a steady flow of silt to the estuary. Nobody seems to want to be responsible for the ongoing damage.


  1. I,d be waiting until the salty water was in the lounge room,you know how these conservationists get lost in the vegetation.

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