ORC to take tighter line on hazard management

More ''stringent'' approach to development on hazard-prone land is being signalled by the Otago Regional Council.

The regional council has been providing the Dunedin City Council with information on hazards within the city.

Regional council natural hazards manager Michael Goldsmith said in a recent report to the policy committee the aim was to help the city council develop rules to manage land use activities so the adverse effects of natural hazards and climate change could be avoided or mitigated.

The information would also be used to inform the development of the regional council's Regional Policy Statement. All the region's territorial local authorities' district plans had to be consistent with the statement.

Cr Gretchen Robertson said some hazards had caused ''intolerable'' conditions for some people and communities should not have to live with the ongoing stress and risk.

''We are signalling it isn't the way we want to see communities planned into the future.''

A series of guiding principles had been developed by the two councils' working group.

The principles included creating communities where people could live, work and use the land without ongoing stress or fear of natural hazards and creating and building infrastructure which took into consideration the risks from hazards while still being affordable.

An adaptive management approach was needed to allow for improvements in understanding hazards and climate change, the report said.

One of the principles stated some risks were intolerable and another that the exacerbation of risks should be avoided by new development or hazard management measures.

Planning considerations had also been developed by the two councils' working group.

''Any planning response will depend on the nature of the hazard and may include avoidance of new, or restrictions on existing development, or design standards to avoid or mitigate negative effects.''

Chairman Stephen Woodhead said the key was utilising the expertise of both councils to ensure the outcomes came forward in the plans.

''I hope the city is able to support and endorse these principles, also.''

Cr Gerry Eckhoff said the council needed to be careful about the ''moral hazard'' of this approach as too much emphasis on hazards could affect the value of people's homes.

''It's an issue we need to tread very carefully around.''

The committee also adopted the GNS report assessing the hazard significance of landslips in six areas in Dunedin city.

The report would be provided to the city council for use in its natural hazard planning for the District Plan and put on the regional council's online Otago Natural Hazards Database.

-rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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