Beach spots with an unin­sur­able fu­ture

The Hutt News - - FRONT PAGE - NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

Ob­tain­ing in­sur­ance is likely to be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for East­bourne home-own­ers, with Welling­ton Har­bour ris­ing due to cli­mate change.

In­surer IAG this week said in fu­ture prop­er­ties would be as­sessed in terms of their in­di­vid­ual cli­mate change risk.

Beach-front prop­er­ties at risk of flood­ing should ex­pect to see their pre­mi­ums rise, the com­pany warned.

East­bourne Com­mu­nity Board chair Vir­ginia Hor­rocks said a res­i­dent re­cently con­tacted her af­ter an in­sur­ance com­pany de­clined to in­sure her house. It is a sit­u­a­tion she pre­dicted would only be­come more com­mon.

Hor­rocks, who stood for the Greens in Hutt South, is on a coun­cil ad­vi­sory group look­ing at cli­mate change. Next year, she is plan­ning meet­ings with lo­cal res­i­dents to look at the im­pact on in­di­vid­ual bays.

Lowry Bay was likely to have the big­gest prob­lem.Res­i­dents al­ready had to deal with de­bris and waves on the road in storms, and Hor­rocks said the sit­u­a­tion could only get worse.

Lowry Bay Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent David Miller wrote to the Hutt City Coun­cil in July calling for ac­tion.

‘‘This spe­cific con­cern has arisen as a re­sult of the last storm in which at sev­eral points along the East­ern bays, par­tic­u­larly in Lowry Bay, waves were quite deep across the road, stones and logs washed around and ac­cu­mu­lated on the road, and de­bris from the waves trav­elled up to 18 me­tres into res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties.’’

Miller ac­knowl­edged that find­ing a so­lu­tion was likely to be tech­ni­cally dif­fi­cult.

‘‘How­ever, we think it is time that the Hutt City Coun­cil be­gan con­sid­er­ing op­tions with a view to im­ple­ment­ing a long-term and ef­fec­tive road and prop­erty pro­tec­tion so­lu­tion.’’

In July, coun­cil pol­icy man­ager Wendy Moore told coun­cil- lors that cli­mate change and the re­sult­ing rise in sea level, would have a ma­jor im­pact on Hutt City.

It was time to stop talk­ing and in­stead fo­cus on find­ing ways to mit­i­gate the im­pact, she said in a memo.

‘‘The level of un­cer­tainty about the speed of cli­mate change and sea level rise has re­sulted in peo­ple us­ing this un­cer­tainty as a rea­son for in­ac­tion. The longer the cli­mate dis­course is caught up in ar­gu­ing about un­cer­tainty, the less likely it is that the re­quired ac­tions will take place.’’

Cli­mate change scep­tics had suc­cess­fully spread doubt, she said. ‘‘This means it is dif­fi­cult for coun­cils to achieve a level of com­mu­nity con­sen­sus on how to ap­proach the risk and re­silience is­sues associated with cli­mate change and sea level rise.’’

The coun­cil is ap­point­ing a se­nior man­ager who will be re­spon­si­ble for long-term cli­mate change plan­ning.

In­sur­ance com­pa­nies were al­ready re­luc­tant to pro­vide cover in low ly­ing ar­eas such as East­bourne and Pe­tone, which faced the threat of ris­ing sea lev­els and tsunamis, Moore said.

For­mer com­mu­nity board chair and civil en­gi­neer Derek Wil­shere has been ob­serv­ing coastal changes in East­bourne since 1949. Al­though the road was un­der threat, he pre­dicted it would be 50 years be­fore houses were threat­ened.

In De­cem­ber 2015 the Par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sioner for the En­vi­ron­ment Jan Wright re­leased a re­port Pre­par­ing New Zealand for Ris­ing Seas. It pre­dicted an in­crease in sea level of 20-35cm by 2050 for Welling­ton Har­bour.

KEVIN STENT

Days Bay res­i­dent Sarah Gilbert checks out the weather in a 2013 storm. Kather­ine Mans­field’s hol­i­day beach house was badly dam­aged dur­ing the storm. Get­ting in­sur­ance could be­come a ma­jor prob­lem for East­boune res­i­dents.

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