Archive | January, 2017

An Update for planning for sea level rise

22 Jan

by David Holland

written early 2016

One of the potential threats to Australian shores is the onset of sea level rise, but to date the federal government have not specifically made policy in this area. They have however made general policy to reduce carbon emissions as part of the Paris conference initiative. Clearly the Australian government is heavily influenced by the world opinion. With the opposition taking a strong position on climate change issues this has had an effect on government policy.

Opposition Federal ministers have indicated that they see sea level rise as a state and local government issue, but Dawson (2011) and Holland (2016) recommend that the Federal government should take a leadership role in this potentially devastating economic impact that climate change will have.

In 2009 the New South Wales (NSW) State government had developed policy in this area and was influenced by the IPCC reports forecasting up to 900mm rise in sea levels by 2010. However, because the NSW reforms affected land owners in a negative way, the standard set in 2009 was removed by a new state government and any requirements on the standards where placed onto councils in 2012. Councils were then obligated to take full responsibility for making a flood plan. This action was influenced by public pressure from land owners.

Many States Governments have little or no plans for sea level rise adaptations. One important measure outlined by Barnett, Waters, Pendergast, & Puleston, (2013) is that planned retreat should be considered.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility would have influence on State government policy as a research paper by the facility identified issues of resistance to adaptation in the Eastern states of Australia.

Since the NSW government was affected by public opinion in 2012 it now seems to have a successful policy outcome of adapting to climate change effects through the Integrated Regional Vulnerability Assessment (IRVA). Also three new planning policy documents have just finished a public consultation process. These initiative may have been encouraged by the Nature Conservation Council and the Australian Conservation Council which often have representative on government committees.

A draft Coastal Management Bill will bring a new Coastal Management Act in NSW and amend the EPA Act 1979. The Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will control development and introduce four new zones to planning in NSW and finally a rewritten draft coastal management manual will give better support for council planning decision making.

Local government have had little direction to plan for climate change induced sea level rise. In 2010-11, the public outcry over high insurance premium was deafening to the Central Coast councillors and as a result flood prone properties were not identified. This irresponsible policy of councils is slowly changing in Gosford City with a new initiative called sea level rise mapping. This policy was passed by council in March 2015.

Recently, Wyong councillors were still being held hostage by unanimous interest groups to the constant frustration on peak environmental groups such as the Community Environment Network (CEN).

Hopefully the new amalgamated Council on the Central Coast will take concise and appropriate action to address climate change related sea level rise by making appropriate planned retreat strategies in the near future using the new State Coastal Management Act.

References:

Barnett, J, Waters, E, Pendergast, S & Puleston, A 2013, Barriers to adaptation to sea level rise: The legal, institutional and cultural barriers to adaptation to sea-level rise in Australia, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 85 pp., https://www.nccarf.edu.au/sites/default/files/attached_files_publications/Barnett_2013_Barriers_to_adaptation_to_sea_level_rise.pdf

Dawson, Blake, Australian Government, Climate Change and Energy efficiency, COASTAL CLIMATE CHANGE RISK – Legal and Policy Responses in Australia, http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/68cbcb67-bd6c-41ee-b214-02a5143d90d9/files/coastal-cc-legal-responses.pdf

Holland. D., A national security problem – Sea Level rise, (2016), Habitat Association Web Page, https://habitattownplanningforum.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/a-national-security-problem-sea-level-rise/

 

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