28 Sep 2017

Franz Josef township could be on the move

6:50 pm on 28 September 2017

Moving Franz Josef may be necessary to protect the West Coast town, which sits on the volatile Alpine fault.

Franz Josef township, as seen from Wallace Street.

Franz Josef township, as seen from Wallace Street. Photo: Google Maps

A draft report, commissioned by the West Coast Regional Council, has found that moving Franz Josef could be one of the only options to protect the town from an earthquake.

The tourist town, which sits next to the Waiho River, is home to 221 ratepayers, but gets over half a million visitors a year.

The report looks at three options - relocate the town, do nothing, or other protection measures.

The regional council's chief executive, Mike Meehan, said there are significant risks facing the community from the fault and the river.

He said the council has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as these decisions are usually made after a disaster.

Westland mayor Bruce Smith said moving the entire town could cost up to $1 billion, and that couldn't be covered by ratepayers.

The report was released to the public at a meeting earlier this week.

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