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8 Natural Hazards

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Section 30(1)(d)(v) of the RMA requires that regional councils, in respect of the CMA, control:

any actual or potential effects of the use, development, or protection of land, including the avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards.

Section 62(1)(ha) of the RMA requires the Regional Policy Statement (RPS) to state the responsibilities of local authorities in the Region for the use of land for the avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards. The Waikato RPS states that territorial authorities will continue to undertake the role for the avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards. This responsibility applies to all land with the exception of the CMA and the beds of lakes and rivers.

A natural hazard is defined in s2 of the RMA as:

any atmospheric or earth or water related occurrence... the action of which adversely affects or may adversely affect human life, property, or other aspects of the environment.

In the coastal environment, natural hazards may include coastal erosion, sand drift, wind erosion, coastal flooding, changes in sea-level, tsunami, storms and cyclones.

The coastline is constantly influenced by the natural forces of wind and waves. In response to these processes, the coastline undergoes continual change: shorelines fluctuate and water levels vary in relation to tides, atmospheric pressure, winds and wave action. Hazard risk can, therefore, be regarded as the interference of these processes by human use, resulting in physical damage, financial loss and social disruption. The New Zealand Climate Change Programme has indicated the potential for changes in sea level, as well as the potential for increasing numbers of storm and cyclonic events. Further research into these matters is being undertaken at national and global levels. A precautionary approach to the potential effects of climate change is therefore proposed.

There is limited knowledge available about the hazard risk of the coast in the Waikato Region, however, coastal erosion and flooding are considered to be serious hazards at several locations.