The Waitaki District is vulnerable to a wide range of natural hazards. All of these hazards can affect people, property, infrastructure and the wider environment. More significantly, natural hazards can lead to a loss of human life. Therefore, it's important to recognise these hazards and to manage activities in order to limit the exposure of people, property and the environment to risk.
The effects of natural hazards vary in terms of both their likelihood and consequence. Some natural hazards may occur relatively frequently and may damage property, whereas other natural hazards occur infrequently, but when they do occur, they pose serious risk to life.
We're looking to manage natural hazards through policies and rules attached to different hazards and overlays. The rules will vary according to the type of natural hazard, the risk it poses, and the sensitivity of the activity proposed.
A flexible risk-based approach is being proposed to address the risk associated with natural hazards. A risk-based approach balances allowing for people and communities to use their property and undertake activities, while also limiting the risk of harm to life or significant assets as a result of a natural hazard event. The District Plan also advocates an adaptive management approach to managing natural hazards and the effects of climate change.
We identified key issues facing the Waitaki District in regards to Natural Hazards
► Flood hazard areas are the only natural hazard areas currently mapped in the District Plan.
► Updated natural hazards information and mapping is not provided for in the operative District Plan - this includes coastal hazards such as erosion and inundation. This results in a lack of clear and accessible information about areas that are potentially vulnerable to natural hazards.
► Geotechnical matters are not specifically addressed for earthworks that take place on sites vulnerable to land instability or located on steep slopes. This can lead to earthworks that have the potential to exacerbate the risk from natural hazards and alter overland flow paths.
► The current District Plan does not contain any rules relating to the use and development of land subject to other known natural hazards such as land instability, steep slopes or active fault lines.
► The current District Plan does not give effect to recent and updated national direction or regional policy.
We then drafted responses to key issues;
► Inclusion of updated natural hazards information from the Otago Regional Council and Environment Canterbury and the 2012 report on land instability in Moeraki. (Tonkin & Taylor Report).
► Update the mapping of known natural hazards where Council has confidence in the accuracy and validity of the information and the level of risk is understood.
► Identification of ‘hazard-prone’ areas where there is less certainty around the natural hazard.
► A risk based approach to assess natural hazard risk on a sensitivity basis. This would allow certain low risk activities to take place in hazard prone areas (grazing, farming, open space etc.) and restrict more vulnerable activities such as housing, schools and medical centres. New rules would require more information and assessment on the risks associated with a natural hazard and the suitability of the activity being proposed.
► Include a requirement for a geotechnical report to accompany applications for earthworks on steeper slopes and areas where there is a possible risk from land instability.