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Hawke's Bay Regional Council commissions independent review of flood protection assets

Photo for review release resized

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Hinewai Ormsby says the Council has commissioned an independent review of the region’s flood protection assets and drainage systems, to get underway in May.

The scope of the review will cover the performance of all Regional Council-owned and operated flood protection, control and drainage schemes during Cyclone Gabrielle, addressing:

  1. the origin and purpose of each scheme, including intended levels of service (LOS), the severity of the Cyclone Gabrielle event relative to scheme purpose and thirdly, the scheme maintenance and operation before, during and in the immediate aftermath of cyclone Gabrielle; and
  2. recommend improvements to scheme levels of service and maintenance or operational requirements for future events, having regard to climate change. 

"The devastating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle highlighted that there are many systems that Hawke's Bay communities rely on for emergency response and protection."

"This review is not about apportioning blame – it is about taking the learnings to identify where improvements can be made to better safeguard our communities and to support investment decisions related to the long-term regional recovery planning already underway.”

In a meeting today, the Council appointed specialist environmental planner and facilitator Phil Mitchell to chair the review panel.

Before the review can begin, there is a final stage of preparation to be done.

Council delegated Interim Regional Council chief executive Bill Bayfield to finalise the terms of reference and the appointment of two to three review panel members.

Ormbsy says the terms of reference are intended to provide transparency for people in the Hawke’s Bay community affected by the flood, as well as stakeholders more generally. .

The final stage of preparation will be completed before the end of May. The Regional Council will then confirm a date and time via its website and social media for a Facebook Live ‘Ask Me Anything’ session to allow members of the community to learn more, including how to participate in the process.

The terms of reference will focus only on the Regional Council flood protection assets and associated systems, including communications. It will not focus on Civil Defence, which is the subject of a separate review underway, or on other systems that are the statutory responsibility of other entities. 

Ormsby adds, “The independent review panel will ensure members of the community are given the opportunity to participate, in addition to seeking input from council and third-party experts. Further detail will be published on the council website along with the terms of reference and panel members around mid-May.”

Frequently asked questions: 

Why is this review being commissioned? 
The review will provide an appropriate and independent mechanism for reviewing the operation of Regional Council's flood protection assets and associated systems and for capturing council, community and expert input. It will also help guide future Regional Council decision-making and long-term investment. 

Will any final recommendations made by the panel be binding? 

The recommendations will definitely guide decision making, especially the recommendations related to immediate steps. However, it is likely that the longer-term recommendations will highlight some difficult and expensive choices that will need to involve other entities and require challenging trade-offs. For that reason, the recommendations will be non-binding. 

How long will the review take? What will it cost? And who is funding it?

The review is expected to take six months to complete at an approximate cost of $700,000, which will be funded through general rates.

27 April 2023

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