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Managing land retreat

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Managing land retreat

Help is on its way for local bodies wrestling with the prospect of retreating from land under threat from natural hazards.

Dr Ben France-Hudson (Faculty of Law) is a member of a research team that is investigating the legal and social implications of changing existing land use in order to achieve a managed retreat from land at high risk from threats such as sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding.

France-Hudson says that they are particularly interested in the planning and legal barriers to managed retreats, and possible solutions.

He says that one of the problems under the current law is the conflict between the powers of regional councils, and of city and district councils; he says that private property rights add a further complication.

“We are interested in how you respond to a managed retreat from land in light of existing uses of private property, what works well and what not so well, and how decisions get made.”

He says that the key to the research is talking with people directly affected – particularly local government representatives – rather than trying to impose a theoretical solution.

The team will produce a research report, along with articles, addresses and an online toolbox of relevant information.

The two-year research project is being led by a GSN Science planning specialist, Emily Grace, and also involves an independent social scientist, Dr Margaret Kilvington. It is being supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s National Science Challenges Fund.

Photo: Graham Warman