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Published: 2001-03-12 00:00:00

More protection is planned for the Waikato Region’s coasts in Environment Waikato’s 10 year draft Strategic Plan released this week.

The draft Plan says coasts are under increasing pressure from human activity and not enough was known about how coastal ecosytems functioned or how human activities affected marine life. Natural character was being lost through subdivision, land use and development, and structures such as marine farms, marinas and sea walls.

Water quality was affected by pollutants from industrial and urban areas and catchment runoff flowing from rivers. Property worth more than $500 million was at risk from coastal erosion and flooding because developments were built too close to the sea.

Global warming would mean sea levels were likely to rise 50 cm in the next 50 years, putting even more pressure on coastal communities. The Council expected that public expectations for it to protect the coast would increase along with pressures from human activities and marine farming.

The long term aim of the 10 year plan was to maintain natural character, improve water quality, allow sustainable development of marine farming, minimise coastal hazards and increase safety for coastal communities and maintain and enhance coastal biodiversity – the variety of life.

Proposals for the coming year included developing good practice guidelines on beach nourishment to control coastal erosion by June next year, establish a Marine Farming Forum to share information, measure trends and changes in coastal ecology, natural character, water quality, sediment, structures and shoreline position, and support community efforts to stabilise dunes through Beachcare groups.

Local area management strategies were being developed for Whangamata and Whaingaroa catchments, and strategies would be planned for other coastal areas. Environment Waikato would work to raise people’s awareness and understanding of how the coast worked, coastal hazards and the effects of activities on the coast.

The contents of the draft Strategic Plan will be outlined in Environment Waikato’s quarterly magazine EnviroCare which will be delivered to all households in April, and full copies can be obtained from the Freephone 0800 800 401 or on the Council’s website www.ew.govt.nz. Submissions on the Plan are open from April 17 to May 15 and can be posted to Freepost 646, Hamilton East or emailed to strategicplan@ew.govt.nz.

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.