4 Apr 2019

Scientist raises concerns on Shelly Bay development near rising sea level

5:21 pm on 4 April 2019

It would be irresponsible to start building if a new development on Wellington harbour goes ahead, a climate scientist says.

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Victoria University professor James Renwick said the development at Shelly Bay was very close to sea level, and would be prone to frequent flooding.

However, co-developer The Wellington Company said it realised the sea level would rise, and was designing the development accordingly.

The development at Shelly Bay had its resource consent quashed at the end of last year, after being opposed by local businesses and residents through the courts.

The resource consent process will be worked through with the council again.

Dr Renwick said he was concerned by the development being close to sea level.

"This tiny little coastal strip with steep hills in behind, with the way sea levels are rising I expect it's going to be prone to inundation pretty frequently, and very soon - in another 30 years there's going to be problems there."

The rising sea would also create problems for infrastructure, even if it was new, he said.

"As sea levels rise ground water levels rise as well, that's just a reaction of the water underground. That means you do eventually start to get water coming up through manholes and things, and drainage systems not being able to cope."

Even if global warming could be limited to 1.5 Celsius degrees, coastal flooding that was predicted to happen once every 100 years would be happening once a year, Dr Renwick said.

But an architect working on the project, Stuart Gardyne, said sea level rise has been factored into the design of the development.

"We are ensuring and we are requiring every building to have an elevated ground floor. In the townhouses and individual houses they would be able to have a garage at the existing ground level, but all habitable rooms have to be elevated."

He said it might be that later on the road would need to be raised, but that would be necessary on many parts of the city's coast, as sea levels rose.

The development also included fixing sea walls to prevent the ocean coming in.

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