An extra month for say on Kapiti's coastal zones

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 13:26 01/02/2013

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Kapiti Coast District Council has again been accused of "questionable science" and lack of consultation over its controversial shoreline hazard zones.

The council met yesterday to discuss extending consultation on the predicted 50-year and 100-year shorelines in its district plan, and allowed an extra month.

The council announced the predictions about three months ago, and they affect about 1800 property owners who fear their valuations and insurance will be hit.

Marine ecologist Philip Tortell, of Paekakariki, told the meeting he had worked for the United Nations in developing countries for 23 years, and public consultation was "paramount" in that work.

"I involve people from the highest political and decision-making levels to fishing communities and desert nomads.

"Serious consultation and involvement require the public to be invited to contribute and their contributions must be given due consideration . . . before serious decisions are made."

It was arrogant to assume that, because technical matters were involved, the public would not understand, he said.

Rather than adopting a participatory approach, "the council placed affected ratepayers on the defensive, rather than a collaborative search for consensus on how Kapiti can manage this risk".

Coastal Ratepayers United spokesman Chris Ruthe questioned the scientific data behind the report on which the hazard lines were based.

The group has repeatedly asked the council for the raw data so it can gather other expert opinion.

"Why not embrace a genuine consultation process and defer the proposed district plan hearing strictures?" Mr Ruthe said.

Council strategy and partnerships group manager Gael Ferguson said the effects of climate change and impacts of coastal erosion had been discussed with the community for many years, and the district plan process provided opportunity for public comment.

Councillor Diane Ammundsen stressed that the council was following Resource Management Act process.

The council voted to extend consultation on the coastal hazard maps from March 1 to April 2, and decided independent commissioners would be used for hearings on the issue.

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- The Dominion Post

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