Latest News & Public Notices

Work advances on shoreline management plans

17 December 2018

As the summer holiday season begins and people start flocking to our beaches and harbours across the Coromandel, it's a timely reminder that our coastline is one of our district's greatest assets.

Stretching 400 kilometres, the Coromandel has one of the largest coastlines in the country. Our Council has a large programme of work to help manage our coastline sustainably, and this year a number of significant steps were taken in partnership with our communities.

This media release provides a brief introduction to our coastal management programme, and an update on a few key projects.

Protecting our coast

This year our Council adopted the Coastal Management Strategy, which sets out a range of initiatives we will be taking over the coming years to better manage our coastal assets and understand the risk of coastal inundation and coastal erosion.

The 2018-2028 Long Term Plan includes $2.6 million over three years to help us implement this strategy.

This approach to coastal management activity ensures a district-wide approach, allowing us to better-manage our coastline from a holistic and long-term perspective. We work together with public and private organisations such as the Waikato Regional Council (WRC), New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), the Department of Conservation (DOC), iwi and community groups with an interest in coastal protection.

You can find out more about the Coastal Management Strategy here.

Early this year, our Council adopted the Government's revised climate change guidance based on forecasting assumptions the Ministry for the Environment published in December 2017.

This means a potential sea-level rise of up to 1.88m by 2150 will be taken into account for all major infrastructure projects adopted as part of our Council's 2018-2028 Long Term Plan.You can read more about this here.

The document 'Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance' for Local Government 2017 is available from the Ministry for the Environment website.

Introducing our coastal engineer

Pictured: Coastal engineer Jan van der Vliet

Our Council has established a coastal engineering department within our infrastructure team and this year we hired an experienced coastal engineer to implement our coastal management strategy.

Jan van der Vliet (pictured) is a civil engineering professional with more than 35 years’ experience across Europe, Africa, central and south-east Asia and the Pacific.

Jan completed his engineering degree in the Netherlands and spent several years working with the Netherlands Development Organisation in places such as Zambia, Nepal and Cambodia, and eight years at the UK Environment Agency working on catchment and shoreline management plans.

He joined our Council in January 2018 from the Marlborough District Council where he was the rivers investigation and planning engineer.

On Jan’s first day with us in January, the Thames Coast was reeling from a summer storm that brought wild weather, king tides and flooding. Needless to say, working with affected communities on the response and recovery from the storm damage has been a major focus of work for Jan and his team this year. (See below for an update on work at Thames Coast)

Jan averages at least two days each week on site with coastal communities across the Coromandel to see how they and nature has adapted to the challenges we face on the coast.

Adopting our Coastal Management Strategy this year has been a positive step by our Council, Jan says, providing a more coordinated approach to how we manage and protect our coast.

“This strategy sets us up to manager our coastlines for the next 50-100 years,” Jan says.

Shoreline Management Plans

Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) are being developed to outline how each stretch of shoreline is most likely to be managed to address flood and/or erosion.

What is a Shoreline Management Plan?

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) provides a large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal evolution and presents a framework to address these risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment in a sustainable manner.

In doing so, an SMP is a high-level document that forms an important part of our Council's Coastal Management Strategy.

Coastal sediment movements occur within distinct boundaries, or cells, which rarely coincide with administrative boundaries. 

Piecemeal coast protection schemes may not always be compatible with coastline needs elsewhere within the same sediment cell. 

Recognising this fact, our Council decided to produce an integrated coastal 'defence' strategy or SMP wherein all the conflicting needs and constraints on the coastline are identified and considered.

A SMP policy describes how our stretch of shoreline is most likely to be managed to address flood and/or erosion,subject to conditions described below:

  • No active intervention
  • Hold the (existing defence) line 
  • Managed re-alignment (retreat)
  • Advance the line

The objectives of an SMP are:

  • To define, in general terms, the flooding and erosion risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment within the SMP area over the next century;
  • To identify the preferred framework for managing those risks;
  • To identify the consequences of implementing the preferred framework;
  • To set out procedures for monitoring the effectiveness of the SMP;
  • To inform planners, developers and others of the risks identified within the SMP and preferred SMP framework when considering future development of the shoreline and land use changes;
  • To comply with international and national nature conservation legislation and biodiversity obligations;
  • To highlight areas where knowledge gaps exist; and,
  • To provide an action plan to facilitate implementation of the SMP “policies” and monitor progress.

Currently, we are in the process of procuring internal and external resources to kick-off our journey towards a resilient community.

Data is being collated and analysed and a steering group has been established in partnership with Waikato Regional Council and in liaison with Hauraki District Council.

Over the years many investigative reports and surveys have been completed on which we want to build, i.e. we don't want to reinvent the wheel, making best use of the resources available.

The detailed holistic hazard and risk assessments will commence in earnest within the next two months for our three-year project.

Coastal projects update

Pictured: Erosion at Flaxmill Bay following an extreme weather event in July 2018.

We’ve been underway with several high-priority, reactive coastal projects over the last few months. Brief updates on these are provided below.

• Thornton and Ngarimu Bays
The Thornton and Ngarimu Bay coastlines, damaged by erosion during the January 2018 storm, have been re-instated using sand push-ups from the beach. We are working with NZTA to explore ideas for the longevity of the Thames Coast Road in this area, and there is community interest in Thornton for improving the carpark and surrounding area ahead of this summer.  We will continue to engage with community groups with a view to finding a mutually-acceptable solution.

• Thames Town Coastline
Damage occurred along our Shortland Wharf to Moanataiari walkway has been re-instated. Thames is one of the strategic locations in our District that would benefit greatly from Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) along a 'Dynamic Adaptive Pathway Planning (DAPP) action plan.

• Tararu
Recovery from the January storm continues in this community.

Works have been completed at Wilson St and are planned for Robert St to re-instate coastline damage from the storm. We have worked with the Tararu South Flood Protection Group to facilitate the repair between the two streets which has now been completed.  We continue to meet with the community as part of the SMP development. The Group is very active and has been for about 20 years, and is currently fund-raising for proposed rock revetment works on their private frontage. It is a fantastic example of how the local community, in liaison with our Council, is on the 'journey to become a resilient community' from coastal hazards.

• Flaxmill Bay and Cooks Beach
A combination of king tides and an extreme weather event in July caused significant erosion at Flaxmill Bay and Cooks Beach. Appropriate coastal protection management structures, hard and soft engineering options, are being considered. Environmental changes have raised the community’s awareness of the need for careful management of the coastline, and in particular our foreshore, a series of public drop-in meetings and workshops have been held to share information with residents.

Most recently, Jan discussed options to curb beach erosion at Flaxmill Bay with approximately 40 Mercury Bay south residents. Jan told the meeting that TCDC had already lodged a resource consent application with Waikato Regional Council for a rock wall that will transition to a backstop wall and, ultimately, into a soft option (dune plantings) to curb the erosion. Our Council will also be lodging an application for a trial groyne to be constructed at Flaxmill Bay, with the exact location and material to be determined.  All going to plan, construction of the rock wall/backstop wall and the groyne should start by early 2019.