Monday, 23 November 2015

Sea level hazards: You can’t repeal risk, but you can repeal section 71

Ask Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright why, with the money made by peddling his warmist mantra, Al Gore purchases and enjoys sea-level property--despite his own claims that the apartments thereon will be rapidly underwater--and I’ll wager she’ll have no idea.

Nonetheless, this from last Friday’s news:

NZ urged to act on rising sea levels – RADIO NZ
Entire communities may need to be uprooted due to rising sea levels and the Minister of Finance should start preparing for the financial impact now, says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright.
    The commissioner's latest
report 'Preparing New Zealand for rising seas: Certainty and Uncertainty' identified at least 9000 New Zealand homes that lie less than 50cm above spring high tides.
    There was no doubt sea levels were rising and it was certain the frequency of coastal flooding would increase as the sea level rises, Dr Wright said. …
    A standard process for council engagement with coastal communities should be included in central government direction and guidance on sea level rise, Dr Wright said. …
    Councils' planning for sea level rise was problematic … [so] the government was recommended to put direction on planning for sea level rise into a National Policy Statement, such as one envisaged for dealing with natural hazards.
    Officials were urged to address the issues the report raised in the upcoming revision of the 2008 MfE Guidance Manual - which provided direction and guidance to councils on how they should deal with sea level rise.

Here’s my own recommendation for “officials” providing “direction and guidance to councils on how they should deal with sea level rise”:

Direct them to keep the hell out of the way.

You may think that’s a frankly frivolous thing to say, but hear me out.

Let’s grant her claim that sea levels are rising and coastal flooding will increase. Let’s assume that she’s not just another one not letting a good climate crisis go to waste. Let’s agree with her that at least 9000 New Zealand homes are “at risk” when that happens. But let’s recognise that it’s about this point that Ms Wright begins wringing her hands and talking about “sending people letters” and uprooting entire communities –and that people are taking that prescription seriously.

But me ask you this: is this massively increased coastal flooding going to happen this week? Next month? Next year?

imageLet me answer it for you. No, it’s not. The “best estimates” on which she relies (and for the sake of argument let’s agree with them) are talking about these things happening over the course of a century, or even more. Yet the speed of this century-long accretion is allegedly urgent enough that “officials” must begin planning today to expel people from their homes some time tomorrow.

No other possibilities appear to be contemplated other than snail-paced action from officials to tell property-owners what action they must take.

But, well, let me just ask you: Do you know of any means whereby folk could sort out for themselves the risks associated with sea-levels threatening their property, and deal with it as expeditiously as they think necessary?

Think you there might be some process for engagement that didn’t require either central government “direction and guidance” or the bullying and bureaucracy that comes with it?

Any idea of some solution that might spontaneously emerge when folk go about their daily risk-taking business?

Yes, I know, it wholly eludes Ms Wright, council officials and all, none of whom appear to have heard of the phenomena for which Nobel Prizes are awarded, but the process by which supposedly marginal homes can so peacefully and undramatically end up in the hands of those who are satisfied the risk of ownership is worth it—and out of those whose hands are wringing wet with worry mark—is precisely the market process that deals with risks like this every day.  A process whereby those who discount risks in favour of perceived value can outbid and help compensate those who truly fear the worst.

Another way to say this is that the former pick up a bargain from the latter. But if we’re speaking freely, and by this stage of the game we surely are, then how many existing property-owners would really and truly take Ms Wright’s views that seriously they would want to leave their paradise at a knock-down rate. (And putting it the other way, wouldn’t those who are convinced she is right, as well as Wright, be thinking they were the ones stealing from their buyers, since in their minds it is the buyers who are going to miss out—and soon!)

So. Simple.

Problem is that there are only two ways whereby this simple, free and peaceful process could be made to not work, and both are either contemplated or already exist today:

  • either public action to ban private action; or
  • laws to ensure that councils rather than land-owners assume the risk for any alleged natural hazards, and may bully land-owners into compliance with whatever “plans” for their property council sees fit, up to and including the effective nationalisation of their land for beachfront reserve.

Ms Wright proposes the former. The Building Act and Resource Management Act already enforce the latter.

I therefore suggest that the only public action necessary in the face of this alleged threat is to remove the sections of these two acts imposing the resulting risk on ratepayers.

imageLET’S RULE OUT ONE THING right from the bat. Landowners neither deserve nor should be paid compensation from any public trough. The only compensation these willing sellers need is that provided by a willing buyer. And have no fear they will exist.

But all that’s really necessary is the repeal of one simple section of the Building Act, section 71.

I can guarantee you’ve heard of this section before, or at least its results.

You heard about it a lot after the Christchurch earthquakes, often associated with red-zoned land.

You surely heard of its results when council goons trued to evict stroppy old Joe Bennett from his Lyttleton home because they were “concerned for his safety” after the Christchurch earthquakes because of two risky rocks they thought were threatening his home (the risk being entirely in the eyes of the councils'’ beholders):

Last August two goons marched up the drive and slapped a sticker on my house. The sticker threatened me with enormous fines if I didn't leave. I didn't leave. …
    In August, Mr Democracy Services issued a press release saying that the council was concerned for the safety of people in red-stickered houses. Nice of him, but irrelevant. My safety is not the council's concern, just as theirs isn't mine.
    As I said on radio at the time, I don't need another mother. The decision to live in my house was mine to make, and mine alone. And the consequences were for me to accept, and me alone.
    If the council considered my place to be dangerous, they could put a sign outside saying so. Duty done. The truth is that the council never cared about my safety. It cared only about its own legal liability.

Remove Section 71 and the council will have no legal liability, and then between ourselves and our insurance companies we can all safely (or at least peacefully) plan our own futures and look after our own risk. Even if it does mean a sign outside your house—or a tag on your certificate of title—saying that in council’s opinion, which we should all be free to express, the sky is about to fall on us.

That way, the council nannies don’t need to cover their arses.

You see, in the face of risks or alleged risks, Section 71 and its related sections do essentially make council wholly responsible for damage to your property, mandating a policy of “managed retreat” should “natural processes” impinge or appear to infringe upon some unlucky person’s land.

What that retreat means might be summed up in that sticker slapped on Joe’s house by the goons: Enormous fines if you don't leave. Except that in some places now the goons just refuse you your right to build on your own land because, they say, of the risk.

This means that in some parts of the country where the tides, sea levels sand dunes are alleged to be moving in such a risky fashion that almost the entire coastline is said to contain “natural hazards” (bucolic old Tauranga being one such place) you may not build at all in those parts of your land so designated by mother; you may build on other parts differently designated only if you have another site on which to move your house; and  if a sand dune is blown within a certain specified distance of your house, then mother says you may not even take out a shovel to move it – instead, you must move your house to that other site you’ve been keeping for that very purpose all these years.

New Zealand, this is your future under Jan Wright and her recommendations – and, while largely being unspoken about, it has been our present for at least the last twenty years. As I wrote way back in 2002, under the District Plans written in conformity with this policy, beachfront properties are essentially already being nationalised in order to create unpaid-for beachfront reserves.

You see -- trees, rocks, sand dunes and “natural processes” all have rights under the Building and Resource Management Acts. Human beings do not.

Repeal the section that makes it so, however, and you too can live like Al Gore.

Although maybe without the huge nest egg that allows him to purchase sea-level San Fran condos.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how they will blame carbon when the next big earthquake lifts / sinks (pick one) Wellington's foreshore as it has done (lifting so far) several times in the last thousand years? The 1855 quake added 100 meters to Petone which we promptly built on as we are inclined to do.

    Kilbirnie and Petone foreshore could just as easily return to the sea where they were until quite recently. There's bigger forces than climate change moving perceived sea levels.



1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.