Addressing environmental challenges was at the forefront of my work as a planner for the Kaikoura District Council in the late 1990s. The 1993 Kaikoura flood which inundated the town centre had left a deep rooted financial and emotional scar on the community and demanded a new way of managing flood hazards and emergency response.
The 14 November 2016 earthquake, which critically damaged road, rail and other civic infrastructure, provides an eerie reminder of when Kaikoura was a small fishing village isolated by road and rail. Media coverage has given an insight into the magnitude of the challenges ahead to reinstate access to SH1 and Kaikoura via images of landslides, potential dam bursts, blocked road and rail tunnels and railway tracks trailing off into the ocean. It has also given us a snapshot of the dramatic changes to the coast with the uplifting sea bed, irreversible changes to the meandering alignment of the coast, the devastation to the paua beds, and the ‘high and dry’ South Bay marina with its stranded tourist boats.
Before long, the earthquake response will transition from addressing the immediate issues of restoring road north/south road connectivity and essential services for Kaikoura into a longer term recovery planning phase. Applying lessons learned from the Christchurch earthquake recovery will help to ensure that long term planning strikes a balance between timely restoration of critical infrastructure and adopting a well-considered, integrated approach to infrastructure planning.
Integrated planning is imperative for key planning issues such as the permanent road alignment to best service the north/south connection; options for freight; and the coastal infrastructure required to service the tourist, fishing and sea transport industry. These issues have far reaching implications which require more than just an engineering or construction solution.
The big picture
Planning to restore this higher order infrastructure needs to form part of a broader integrated regional planning approach. This approach needs to take into account environmental, cultural, social and economic values. It needs to provide resilient infrastructure designed to withstand greater earthquake, landslide and coastal erosion and inundation risks. It also needs to respond to projected climate change.
It is also critical that infrastructure planning closely engages the local Kaikoura community, iwi and the broader regional community rather than being led from outside the region. This will tap into valuable local knowledge and will led to greater community ‘buy in’ and ultimately to more innovative and sustainable planning outcomes.
Consideration should be given to developing timely and cost-effective planning approval mechanisms to avoid delays in replacing critical infrastructure. Prolonged planning approval processes are likely to impact on regional freight dependent businesses and local businesses including the tourism industry, which is the lifeblood of the local community and economy.
This thought leadership article by Rachel Ducker, planning manager in our Christchurch office, is intended to provide you with insights and relevant information on the planning changes facing Kaikoura following last month’s major earthquake. Our thought leadership articles on topical and specialist issues are designed to present the key points in an easy to digest and interesting manner.
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