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Wainui residents oppose beach erosion works

WAINUI residents yesterday expressed strong opposition to a resource consent application by Gisborne District Council for erosion control works on the beach.

The council is seeking consent to build a 40-metre revetment running north and south of the Tuahine Crescent beach accessway to replace an existing revetment that includes vertical railway irons driven into the sand, now rusting and coming to the end of their life.

It is also seeking retrospective consent for emergency gabion basket works but wants to remove some of the rocks at the top.

The application attracted unanimous opposition to the rock removal and majority opposition to the revetment wall.

Submitters were critical of the revetment proposal which they believe would restrict public access to the beach and use public land to protect private property.

There were calls for integrated management of protection works on the beach and for a review of the Wainui Beach erosion management strategy.

One submitter wanted a poll on the beach strategy.

Scheme 'inequitable'Some spoke of a domino effect and said the protection scheme was inequitable.

Some submitters accepted the need for a managed retreat. Laurie Lautmann said the council should work with nature, not against it.

Forty submissions were received: 14 in support, 19 in opposition and five supporting different components of the proposed works.

James Millton said the gabion basket emergency works in front of his property at 21 Wairere Road were effective and he did not want the rocks removed.

“If the gabions had not been put there, it would be unthinkable what would happen once the water got behind the vertical structure," he said.

Residents complained about the beachfront protection but when you saw something that worked so well and looked at the haphazard protection work, it would be nice to see uniform protection to protect properties.

“We were told that in the event of an impending disaster, the only course of action would be to evacuate, which, I am sorry, would be a fairly big insult to all the people who live in the area.

“It would be better if the council put up a proactive programme of work.

“It seems rather ironic that the council wants to take our rocks away and use them on another part of the beach.”

“That is the most illogical thing I have ever heard any organisation do,” he said.

Simon Cave, whose family has owned 6 Tuahine Crescent since 1930, supported the revetment and said riprap had been very effective, but not removing the rocks.

The original erosion in 1950 was like a hot knife cutting through butter. In the 1990s storms, many residents suffered emotional harm and some left their homes.

Use of ratesA lot of the rates for erosion protection collected from residents had been used for planning and hearings, he said.

Coastal scientist Amber Dunn said her concern was where the new revetment wall met the existing one that was said to have failed.

“My main concern with the proposal sits with the boundary between the old structure and the new structure,” she


The new structure was substantially larger and would create an anomaly on the shoreline. If she were a homeowner on the side of the extension, she would be anxious.

The structural intersection between the old and the new was the weak link in the proposal.

She did not want to “protect Peter to punish Paul”, she said.

The council’s coastal management plan was 20 years old and had never been made operative.

An independent report on the application by consultant Todd Whittaker said he was unable to support the design of the proposed revetment wall. An alternative design with reduced parameters would be more appropriate. He supported the gabion basket works.

Evidence submitted on behalf of the council said the proposal was consistent with the national coastal policy statement and the Wainui Beach emergency scheme. It provided a medium-term solution and would balance socio-economic and environmental options.

The hearing is before independent commissioner Greg Hill and is expected to conclude today.

Previous erosion control at Wainui Beach. Picture by Paul Rickard