Access to Cape Kidnappers along Clifton Beach will be re-opened while a Quantitative Risk Analysis (QRA) is undertaken to thoroughly assess the risks associated with the coastline, following three significant landslides earlier this year.
Alongside a majority decision at Hastings District Council today to open the beach, councillors also asked officers to investigate and take whatever reasonably practical steps they may consider necessary to try and keep people safe whilst the QRA is completed. These steps would be reviewed following the completion of the QRA.
Today’s meeting was attended by a large number of community members as well as a representative from the Department of Conservation, the Gannet Beach Adventures operator, the geologist engaged to complete the interim report commissioned after the first landslide, and council staff involved in investigating and responding to the landslides.
Councillors had an extensive debate about the risks of the coastline weighed up against the consideration that life was full of risk in all manner of situations, people’s desire to access this part of the coastline, and the future of the Gannet Beach Adventures business.
The result was a tight vote with seven councillors in favour of re-opening the beach and five against – these five councillors preferred to keep the beach temporarily closed while the QRA was completed.
The QRA was expected to take about six months to complete and would give the council a more accurate assessment of the dangers of the cliffs above the beach, coupled with other risk factors such as the numbers of people accessing the beach, how long they spent there and whether they travelled by foot or vehicle.
The cost of the QRA is estimated to be around $300,000, which would be unbudgeted expenditure for the council.
The council would discuss cost sharing for his work with partner agencies, including DOC, in order to minimise the burden on ratepayers.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the beach would not re-open until the council was confident it had done all it could to put the reasonable control measures in place for public safety.
“It’s important we do everything reasonably practicable to ensure the local community and our national and international visitors to Cape Kidnappers are kept safe.
“Cape Kidnappers continues to be one of our most treasured tourist attractions and loved areas in Hawke’s Bay and we have a duty of care to everyone who goes there.”
6 March 2019
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