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Articles - Climate Change
Written by Angela Gregory, The New Zealand Herald   
Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Waves crash over the seawall and threaten houses. Photo / Reuters

Coastal property owners are likely to lobby councils hard for expensive protection measures such as seawalls if climate change makes their homes uninsurable, a natural disasters conference has been told..

Terry Hume, a Niwa coastal scientist, told the Auckland conference that people were still buying properties on the sea front and in high-hazard zones because they perceived the benefits outweighed the risks.

But they lacked knowledge about coastal processes and either denied risk or had blind faith that councils would help in the event of erosion.

Mr Hume said past mistakes had put coastal property in hazardous locations, too close to the sea and failing to take account of natural changes such as shoreline movement.

Most hazard analysis did not consider joint probabilities of events such as the occurrence of spring tides with storm surge and high waves, although such models were being developed.

The level of risk was further increased as the traditional Kiwi bach was replaced by dwellings more like mansions.

A strong sense of individual property rights had to be set against the interests of the wider community which faced the possibility of rising rates to fund coastal protection and increased cost of insurance premiums.

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