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Published: 2002-05-17 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has released a report on coastal erosion to help guide beachside development on the Coromandel.

The report to Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki District Councils recommends how much space should be left between buildings and a shoreline to help prevent property damage caused by coastal erosion.

Policy Committee Chairman and Coromandel councillor Evan Penny said the report aimed to help District Councils plan for future development, while ensuring the public had full access to Coromandel beaches.

"Coastal erosion is a natural process and we now have solid, scientific information to help us understand it and learn to live with it," Cr Penny said.

"We hope this report will provide information so that in the future, people don't find themselves in the very difficult position of having to protect their homes or properties from the sea."

The report suggests that over the next 100 years, the amount of Coromandel beachfront exposed to coastal erosion will increase by 20 - 40 metres. Environment Waikato has recommended that in the future, buildings be protected by at least 10 metres of natural sand dunes.

"In the past, sand dunes have been bulldozed to improve sea views, or natural plants which bind the dunes together have been removed," Cr Penney said.

Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) group manager Policy and Planning Chris Samson said the recommendations – known as development setback lines – were not new to Council or to most Coromandel beachfront property owners.

Original setbacks were put in place in the early 1980s to provide guidance for coastal development and have been noted on all Thames Coromandel District Council property files for nearly 20 years.

"The new recommendations are quite similar to the old lines. This report confirms them with robust science and will help us plan for future coastline development," he said.

Development setbacks are already applied and enforced on the Coromandel Peninsula. Currently no new buildings, structures or septic tanks can be located within a certain distance from the shore unless a site-specific report shows they are outside the high risk area. Some buildings are allowed within a certain distance from the shore if they are relocatable.

TCDC is yet to consider including the Environment Waikato recommendations as rules in its District Plan. This would require a full public consultation process.