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Holmes urges caution over new developments

David Holmes, the infrastructure committee chair for Masterton District Council [MDC] has an urgent message for those responsible for signing off housing developments: “Don’t allow building in areas that will haunt future councils.”

In light of recent flooding, councils need to be careful about where they allow new subdivisions, he said.

“Over the years, councils have been too lenient to where people can build.”

In Masterton district, homes have been built too close to rivers, streams, and low-lying areas prone to flooding and – as climate change continues to intensify – all these areas are directly in the firing line when bad weather hits.

“There’s an area down around Andrew St that’s really low – it just creates problems for the council,” Holmes said.

Masterton was named as one of the country’s 44 communities that are most vulnerable to extreme flooding in a report released in November last year.

Each of the at-risk communities has a council that’s failed to include flood protection infrastructure in its long-term plans, with the report also noting that communities in the wider districts could have limited financial capacity to fund responses to flood risk.

And in a separate report, Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] has identified 40,000 hectares of farmland in the lower Wairarapa Valley that’s also at a heightened risk of flooding.

While there isn’t much MDC can do about existing buildings that are susceptible to flooding, Holmes points out it can and should be more careful when consenting new homes.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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