100-year approach to hazards advocated

GNS Science senior natural hazards planner Dr Wendy Saunders. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
GNS Science senior natural hazards planner Dr Wendy Saunders. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Wendy Saunders is keen to encourage longer term natural hazard planning.

Dr Saunders, senior natural hazards planner at GNS Science, yesterday gave a talk reflecting on the country's natural hazards planning, and the challenges to improve planning practice.

Speaking at the University of Otago's Centre for Sustainability, Dr Saunders, of Wellington, said she would ultimately like to see district councils put more focus on 100-year resilient development plans, not just on 10-year plans.

A key challenge was to ensure that lessons were learned throughout the country from past natural hazard events, and climate change risks also had to be factored in.

She listed a series of key natural hazard events, including Cyclone Bola, which caused extensive damage to the Gisborne region and elsewhere in the North Island in March 1988.

Parts of the North Island east coast were still recovering from this cyclone, yet it was hard to keep lessons from it to the fore, given that many younger New Zealanders had not been born at the time, she said.

A new holiday home development, at a former seaside holiday park at Mokau, north of New Plymouth, was in an area prone to coastal erosion.

The district council's innovative resource consent required that all the buildings must all be relocatable, and that the buildings must be removed before the sea encroached too closely.

This form of sustainable development could also be used elsewhere in the country, under similar circumstances, she said.

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