Natural hazards planning in Southland and Otago Regions, New Zealand

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Forsyth, P.J.; Becker, J.S. 2005 Natural hazards planning in Southland and Otago Regions, New Zealand . Lower Hutt: Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences. Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences science report 2005/12 41 p.

Abstract: Eight District Plans and two Regional Policy Statements from Southland and Otago, in southern New Zealand, were assessed on their coverage of natural hazards. Information in the plans was compared with scientific knowledge of hazards within the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (GNS). Most of the planning documents (70%) list all the natural hazards known by GNS to occur in the region, while the rest list some of the known hazards. All the documents identify floods as the main hazard in their area, while earthquakes and erosion/sedimentation are mentioned by 90%, and landslides and extreme weather by 80% of documents. Half of the planning documents give the source of some or all of their hazard information. Most (80%) recognise that there is a need to update the local hazard information, or acknowledge that there is a lack of information available, but less than half (40%) provide for adding new hazard information as it becomes available. All district plans (but not regional policy statements) contain planning maps. Most of the plans include some or all local hazards on their maps, of which flooding (flood-prone areas) is the most commonly shown. Planning maps generally do not show the magnitude of the hazards. The districts which do not show hazards on planning maps have a stand-alone hazards register. Objectives, Policies and Methods (including Rules) covering natural hazards occur in all planning documents, some dealing with specific hazards while others cover hazards in general. The rules and other methods stated by plans examined in this study are fairly standard for councils in other parts of New Zealand, and there are few examples of plans specifying more innovative approaches. There is only one example of a setback from the coast, and no examples of setbacks from active fault traces. District plans in the study area have moderate to strong relationships with each other and with the regional policy statements (their content is assessed as similar by a cross-tabulating technique). This should mean that knowledge of natural hazards, and methods of dealing with them, are coordinated throughout the area, which should favour good management of cross boundary hazard issues. The main gaps identified in the District Plans and Regional Policy Statements are: - Lack of factual data about natural hazards - Lack of data on the sources of information about hazards - Lack of any objective method for quantifying hazard and risk - Little commitment to upgrading hazard information held by councils - Lack of setback provisions from known active hazard features. It appears that some useful knowledge that resides in the science community is not represented in these planning documents, although the knowledge may be used elsewhere such as Lifelines studies. Possible barriers to uptake of scientific knowledge are identified, along with some opportunities for transfer of science information. This study provides a baseline for future studies examini ng the uptake of scientific (in this case geological) information by council planners. It can also be used by planners wanting to upgrade the coverage of natural hazards in district plans. In a wider sense, this information could be used to study trends, highlight gaps in community and planning knowledge, and to focus information campaigns. (auth)