15 Nov 2009

Call to protect coastal areas against global warming

3:26 pm on 15 November 2009

New Zealand should consider building dykes and seawalls to help protect coastal areas from the effects of global warming, a climate scientist believes.

The Australian government has released a report identifying the risks of erosion to its residents based on the coast.

In New Zealand, 80% of the population lives within 50km of the coast. It is predicted the coastline will come under an increasing risk of erosion as climate change brings heavier and more frequent storms.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's principal scientist says like Australia, New Zealand should consider what physical barriers can be built to protect properties near the sea.

Jim Renwick says some of New Zealand's most sought-after coastal property will be at the mercy of rising sea levels.

"A lot of what is now the most valuable land in New Zealand is also the most vulnerable land. I think in most countries we like to live near the sea, and with rising sea levels and so on, that's become a riskier proposition as time goes on."

Dr Renwick says many regional councils are stipulating new conditions for building near the coast.

The Insurance Council also says the continuing effects of global warming will make coastal property harder to insure.