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Threatened species conservation in Australia and the EPBC Act. 

12 Feb

By David Holland

 

The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, replaced four commonwealth Acts including the Endangered Species Act 1992, The Environmental Protection Act (impacts of Proposals) Act 1974 and the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975. (Thomas 2007)

Since Australia signed the Ramsar agreement in 1971, the Federal government has been committed to list and take action on wetland fauna and flora communities. This was in the backdrop of a committed community of environmentalists within Australia that lead to the Landcare movement and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The issues in Australia were that the culture in the 1950s and 1960s had been to tame the bush and clear the land. Wetland were generally left as they provided no opportunity for agricultural use. As with the Ramsar process on the world stage, Australia, through the voice of the environmentalist, started to realise that the world was finite and the Australian landscape was more sensitive to wholesale development than previously thought.

After Ramsar and under the Heads of Agreement on Commonwealth/State Roles and responsibilities for the Environment Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment, States started to pass legislation that reflected the above Commonwealth Acts. (Thomas 2007)

In 1979 the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act was passed to control land use within NSW. Later the Act incorporated the protection of designated Wetlands under State Environmental Planning Policy 14.

Then as land management moved from the urban setting to the rural, Australia started to have policies like Total Catchment Management, to better manage farm land, the landscape and to reduce erosion etc. This later moved to vegetation and even habitat protection in the mid 1990s. Then there was a move to Integrated Catchment Management which looked at landscape management from a regional level with Catchment Management Authorities. (Dovers 2003)

Then in 1995 NSW followed the Commonwealth by introducing the Threatened Species Act. This was to work in conjunctions with the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and the EPA Act 1979 in protecting species and ecologically sensitive communities from wholesale development.

But the EPBC Act goes further and deals with any matter related to the environment with a national significance, including world heritage properties within Australia, Ramsar wetlands, nationally endangered and vulnerable species and/or communities, migratory birds, protection and management of coastal environments and the protection of marine life. It also has a responsibility to manage and act on nuclear activities within Australia or that is likely to affect Australia. (Thomas 2007)

Table 1: Below is a typical listing from the EPBC Act 1999

Mammals that are Critically Endangered 
Genus, species (subspecies, population)
Common Name Effective
Gymnobelideus leadbeateri Leadbeater’s Possum 02-May-2015
Miniopterus orianae bassanii Southern Bent-wing Bat 18-Dec-2007
Pipistrellus murrayi Christmas Island Pipistrelle 12-Sep-2006
Potorous gilbertii Gilbert’s Potoroo 06-Jul-2004
Pteropus natalis Christmas Island Flying-fox 03-Jan-2014
Saccolaimus saccolaimus nudicluniatus Bare-rumped Sheathtail Bat (Qld) 04-Apr-2001

Figure 1 Locality map of Leadbeater’s Possum (EPBC Act)

picture1

It is the whole population that benefited through the application of the policy not only today but into the future. That said, there are business interests with shorter vision and a need to make a profit that would perhaps prefer to be back in the 1960 where the taming of the bush enabled wholesale development of mining interests and urban and industrial development in all manner of places without controls.

But now after Ramsar, there has been slow process from the first MAR conference at Les Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer in the French Camargue. This meeting recognise the importance of wetland and later catchment and land management, and later again the protection and rehabilitation of endangered and vulnerable species and communities. (“MAR” is simply short for marshes)

But not to forget the home grown environmentalist who saw a need to protect landscapes and rehabilitated landscapes like Alan and Marigold Lawrence who founded Landcare on the Central Coast.

These people had ideals that all Australians should be able to enjoy natural settings. This is what the EPBC helps to do while at the same time allows business and commercial enterprises to develop land in an appropriate way that ensures protection for our natural Australian heritage.

If we were to ask how the values of these pioneers across the world have influenced policy we see a slow progression of policy to protect the natural environment through land use planning and then to Threatened species protection.

The trajectory is sound but there is more to do. Proper integrated planning still needs to be applied.

When developing urban areas, a process of retrofitting wildlife and natural bushland corridors needs to continue. These processes were of wildlife design were pioneered by David Goldney, Professor at Charles Sturt University, who would had been one of the first environmentalists to study the effects of corridors in a rural setting in the 1990s. Also when developing urban areas, an introduction of the precautionary planned retreat from the oceans due to the advent of climate change induced sea level rise should commence. A planned retreat that includes the re-establishment of wetlands and salt-marsh as the seas rise and inundate now dry land. (Holland 2015)

But is the policy behind the EPBC Act formulated on best scientific knowledge. The answer would have to be no. Science understood little about how wetlands work in the beginning but as the world started to protect these areas more funding became available to study them. If the world had waited to do exhaustive studies on many of our vulnerable species before politicians decided to provide funding through appropriate legislation to do recovery plans, species may have been lost. Yes, science has been active in many of the areas of conservation as highlighted above, but it is ideas that need to drive the processes of policy development. The risk is that opponents to policy change may have vested interests in unfettered development and complain that there is no scientific basis for the policy change and influence popular opinion against a policy change that has environmental merit.

 

References:

Australia Conservation Foundation, Our History, https://www.acfonline.org.au/about-us/our-history

Australian Government, EPBC 1999, Offset Policy, Oct 2012, http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/epbc-act-environmental-offsets-policy

Australian Government, Department of the Environment, About the EPBC Act, http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/about

Australian Government,  The Department of the Environment, The Ramsar convention on wetlands, http://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/ramsar

Australian Government,  The Department of the Environment, Nuclear Actions, http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/what-is-protected/nuclear-actions

Dell’Amore, Christine (2013), LAST OF THE LAST, 20,000 Species Are Near Extinction: Is it Time to Rethink How We Decide Which to Save?, National Geographic , PUBLISHED DECEMBER 16, 2013, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131216-conservation-environment-animals-science-endangered-species/

Dovers Stephen, Rivers Su Wild (editors) (2003), Managing Australia’s Environment, The Federation press, pp. 134-140, 284-301, 328-337,  394-412, 442-460, 501-514,

Garnett, Stephen, Professor of Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods, July 2, 2014, Threatened species win a voice in Canberra – but it’s too late for some, The Conversation,  Charles Darwin University, https://theconversation.com/threatened-species-win-a-voice-in-canberra-but-its-too-late-for-some-28667

Golden, Dr David Charles, Citation for the Conferral of a Doctor of Science (honoris causa), https://www.csu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/628894/Goldney-David-Charles.pdf

Holland D, Planning for Sea Level Rise Risk in some Coastal Regions of Australia – A Market Approach, Habitat Association for the Arts and Environemnt Web site, https://habitattownplanningforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/planning-for-climate-change-the-risk-model-for-sea-level-rise-discussion-paper-3rd-edition-rev1-20151.pdf

How to use the assessments Guide, EPBC 1999, Offset Policy, http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/12630bb4-2c10-4c8e-815f-2d7862bf87e7/files/offsets-how-use.pdf

Matthews, G. V. T.(1993), The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: its History and Development, Published by the Ramsar Convention Bureau, Gland, Switzerland, Re-issued Ramsar Convention Secretariat, 2013, http://www.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/lib/Matthews-history.pdf

Rouget, Mathieu 1; Cowling Richard M.2; Lombard Amanda T.2; Knight, Andrew T.2; and Kerley Graham I.H.3; 30 Jan 2006, Designing Large-Scale Conservation Corridors for Pattern and Process, Conservation Biology, Volume 20, Issue 2, pages 549–561, April 2006, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00297.x/full

NSW Government, Threatened Species Act (1995), http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/viewtop/inforce/act+101+1995+FIRST+0+N

NSW Office of Environment and heritage, Ramsar Wetlands, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/wetlands/RamsarWetlands.htm

Thomas, I. (2007),  Environmental Policy.  Annandale, N.S.W: The Federation Press, pp.36-40, 70-129, 403-425.

 

 

 

 

A History of management measures related to the Murray-Darling Basin water resource

12 Feb

By David Holland

I would like to focus on the initiatives of the Federal government during the 1990’s and into the new century. This was the period when the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council, later to become the Murray-Darling Basin Commission launched the Natural Resource Management Strategy (NRMS). (Connell 2007)

This was the first time in the long history of managing the basin that Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory were consulted in an attempt to better manage the resources in the basin. This initiative was in the backdrop of newly developed Integrated Catchment Management principals (ICM) which for the first time acknowledged the sensitivity of the natural environment when developing economic uses of water for agriculture and power generation in the MDB catchment. (Dovers 2007)

Before this Initiative salinity and land management practices were the main issues.

Much of the salinity problems that had arisen at the beginning of last century were overcome by large infrastructure investments for navigation, power and irrigation such as the Hume Weir in 1933 and the lower river lock system. (Connell 2007)

In NSW under the new Water Act 2000 the state started to implement water sharing plans developed for each river and ground water system in NSW. The Murray and lower Darling was just one of them, however this river system had an over committed water resource. The aim of this program was to ensure all rivers in NSW had some environmental flow. Any water sharing of this system needed to include not only environmental flow but a South Australian and Victorian allocation of water.

It wasn’t until the period when the Howard government establishing the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in 2007 and provided funding to purchase water allocations for environment flow through the Commonwealth Environment Water Holder (CEWH) scheme that the MDB turned a corner for the environment. (Crowley 2012) However people concerned about river health still criticise the Murray-Darling Basin plan 2012. (South Australian Government 2012)(Phillips 2012)

References

Carla Mooneya , Poh-Ling Tanb, (2012), South Australia’s River Murray: Social and cultural values in water planning, Journal of Hydrology, Volume 474, 12 December 2012, Pages 29–37, Water Planning in Australia: meeting the challenges of incorporating social, cultural and scientific information into decision-making, http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0022169412002739 (cited March 2016)

Connell, Daniel, 2007, Water Politics in the Murray- Darling Basin, Federation Press.

Colman W., (2009), Australian National University, Two Decades of Murray-Darling Water Management: A River of Funding, a Trickle of Achievement, Agenda, Vol. 16, Number 1 Press release, http://press.anu.edu.au/agenda/016/01/mobile_devices/ch01s03.html (cited 2 April 2016)

Crowley, Kate; Walker K J; (2012), Environmental Policy failure, The Australian Story, Tilde Publishing and Distribution,  pp. 74-87.

CSIRO Land and Water / Charles Sturt University, Published Water the good stuff,http://www.water.org.au/pubs/pub04_bowmer.htm, (cited March 2016)

Dovers Stephen, Rivers Su Wild (editors) (2003), Managing Australia’s Environment, The Federation press, pp. 236- 253, 393-411.

Kathleen Bowmer,(2004), Look after the Land and the Rivers: Reflections on Water Sharing,

 

Murray Darling Basin Commission, (2002), Environmental Challengers in the Murray- Darling Basin, Printed Material in the Murray-Darling Basin Initiative.

Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council, (Sept 2000), Draft Integrated Catchment Management in the Murray-Darling Basin.

NSW Government, (2003), Water Sharing Plan for the New South Wales Murray and Lower Darling Regulated Rivers Water Sources 2003, NSW legislation, http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/viewtop/inforce/subordleg+186+2003+FIRST+0+N/ (cited2  April 2016)

NSW Department of Infrastructure Planning and natural resources,(Sept 2004), A guide to the Water Sharing Plan for the New South Wales Murray and Lower Darling Regulated Rivers Water Sources, NSW Government, http://www.water.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/547692/murrayreg-guide.pdf

Phillips, Sara ,May 2012, Murray-Darling Plan reflects the failure of the government, ABC Environment, http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2012/05/31/3514567.htm, (cited 2 April 2016)

Quiggin, JohnChambers, Sarah;Mallawaarachchi, Thilak, Water Policy Reform : Lessons in Sustainability from the Murray Darling Basin, Edward Elgar Publishing, http://reader.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/(S(radepoiycscgzbj3xcbimax2))/Reader.aspx?p=881401&o=476&u=hSuhCa8BIa8%3d&t=1459082398&h=62224971D99C659252DB9831324D7CC8EA166335&s=43446336&ut=1443&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1&sd=2, (cited March 2016)

South Australian Government, 16 April 2012, South Australian Government response to the Draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Link At South Australian Government Submission on the Murray …, (cited 2 April 2016)

Schliebs, Mark.(2012), Greens will block revised Murray-Darling water plan, The Australian , [Canberra, A.C.T] 10 Aug 2012: 6, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/1032770732?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=10344 (cited March 2016)

Wells, Adrian, (1995), The Murray Darling Association [Also celebrating a 50th anniversary.] [online]. Trees and Natural Resources, Vol. 37, No. 1, Mar 1995: 29-30. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=950605997;res=IELAPAISSN: 0814-4680. [cited 27 Mar 16].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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/

 

Bibliography

Australian Government, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, 2011, Coastal climate change risk – Legal and policy responses in Australia, http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/adaptation/publications/coastal-climate-change-risk

Australian Government, Department of Environment(2006), The role of the private sector in environmental stewardship, integrative commentary by Ms Deni Greene, Deni Green Consulting Services, www.environment.gov.au/node/22660

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

DFAT, Australia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to a new Climate Change Agreement, (Aug 2015), UNFCCC, submission, http://dfat.gov.au/international-relations/themes/climate-change/submissions/Pages/australias-intended-nationally-determined-contribution-to-a-new-climate-change-agreement-august-2015.aspx

DFAT, Australian Government, Overview of Australia’s assistance for climate change, Web page, http://dfat.gov.au/aid/topics/investment-priorities/building-resilience/climate-change/Pages/climate-change.aspx

Dovers S., & Wild River, S., (2003), Managing Australia’s Environment, Sydney: The Federation Press.

Environment and heritage, NSW Government action on climate change, Prepare NSW for the unavoidable changes in our climate, http://www.climatechange.environment.nsw.gov.au/About-climate-change-in-NSW/NSW-Government-action-on-climate-change

Gosford City Council, Environment and Waste, Sea Level Rise, http://www.gosford.nsw.gov.au/environment-and-waste/environmental-management-and-planning/sea-level-rise

Green Climate Fund, Decisions of the Board Eighth Meeting of the Board 14-17 October 2014 (Dec 2014), Bridgetown, Barbados, https://www.greenclimate.fund/documents/20182/24946/GCF_B.08_45_-_Decisions_of_the_Board_-_Eighth_Meeting_of_the_Board__14-17_October_2014.pdf/1dd5389c-5955-4243-90c9-7c63e810c86d

Green Climate Fund, Pledge tracker, http://www.greenclimate.fund/contributions/pledge-tracker#areas

Habitat for humanity, Our plans, Habitat for Humanity NSW is excited about our upcoming projects for 2015-2018., http://habitat.org.au/nsw/our-work/our-plans/

Hamilton Clive, Running from the Storm the development of climate change policy in Australia (2001) , University of NSW Press Ltd.

Holland, D, Climate Change related Sea Level Rise Policy changes in New South Wales (2015), Habitat Association web page, https://habitattownplanningforum.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/climate-change-related-sea-level-rise-policy-changes-in-new-south-wales/

Holland, D, Climate Change related Sea Level Rise Policy changes in New South Wales (2015), Habitat Association web page, https://habitattownplanningforum.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/climate-change-related-sea-level-rise-policy-changes-in-new-south-wales/

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/

Howes. M., (2005), Politics and the Environment, Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

National climate change adaptive Research Facility, Rental Housing, Climate Change and Adaptive capacity: a case study of Newcastle, NSW, Researcher Leslie Stone, University of Newcastle, https://www.nccarf.edu.au/content/rental-housing-climate-change-and-adaptive-capacity-case-study-newcastle-nsw

Office of Environment and Heritage, Regional vulnerability and assessment (2015), http://www.climatechange.environment.nsw.gov.au/Adapting-to-climate-change/Regional-vulnerability-and-assessment, (web page)

Office of Environment and Heritage, Coastal Reform Overview, Public consultation on the Coastal management reforms (Nov 2015), http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/coasts/coastreforms.htm

Thomas. I., Environmental policy: Australian practice in the context of theory, Federal Press, Canberra, Australia.

Wyong Shire council, Coastal Management, (2013), https://www.wyong.nsw.gov.au/environment/coastal-management

Council Amalgamations

2 Mar
This is a submission by Dr Raymond Charles Rauscher published on 28 Feb 2016 ray.r@idl.net.au Conjoint Lecturer at University of Newcastle School of Environment and Life Sciences, Ourimbah Campus, Ourimbah 2258

The conclusions reached in this submission by the author are based on working in town planning within NSW since 1969 and on completing research on various aspects of local government and sustainable urban planning (SUP), a theme of this submission.

There are three subject areas covered

A. Objection to Amalgamation Proposal

B. Amalgamations and State Review of Local Government

C. Options of Councils Working Together and with the State

This submission opposes the amalgamation as proposed as it has not allowed the community and the local councils as affected to adequately be engaged in the amalgamation process (as conducted by the State). At minimum, a referendum (overseen by the local council and the State) for each council area affected should have been conducted. Part A. Objection to Amalgamation Proposal contains a brief statement on this objection. Part B. Amalgamations and State Review of Local Government discussions and actions on the reform (including amalgamations) of local government in New South Wales (referred to as NSW herein) as commenced in 2009. This Part B provides a time line and progression of understanding this review. It notes the State having received a report from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) at the end of 2015. It also notes the State appointed the Council Boundary Review Committee (CBRC) to receive submissions on proposed IPART recommendations on council amalgamations. There is one clear message here from councils, among a number of issues, of ‘no forced amalgamations of councils’. Thirdly, Options of Councils Working Together and with the State (C) outlines a need for the State, councils and the community to be engaged in examining options for councils working together and with the State, especially in the area of ‘urban planning and infrastructure provisions’. The submission concludes, “There is every possibility NSW councils and the State will be operating under different arrangements in the future, without forced amalgamations. The options of the State and councils working in partnership presents an array of options. The ideal would be to formulate the State and councils partnerships that would satisfy community engagement and apply sustainable urban planning (SUP) practices in municipal and district level planning.

The read the entire submission follow the link below:

<Read More>

A national security problem – Sea Level rise

21 Feb
By David Holland (BAS Env Planning; Grad. Dip. Env. Mngmt)

Introduction

In 2015 the effects of climate change are starting to be felt by Australian communities. Although there are still some who either do not recognize that climate change processes are affecting our daily lives or believe climate change is a natural process, which is the phase of global warming as part of a cycle of global weather patterns from cooler climates to warner climates that have not been affected by human activities on the planet.

These people tend to discount the effects of burning fossil fuels intensively over the last 100 years or so.  They do not recognise that over time concentrations of certain gases in the atmosphere including carbon dioxide have and are affecting the climate.

Presently many of the effects of this warming pattern are relatively mild but over time unless progress is made to curb carbon emissions these effects will impact the economics of Australia and every individual living within Australia.

However climate change deniers and climate change skeptics suggest that if there is a process of global warming happening today, there is nothing we can do about it. Human activity over the last 150 years in digging up and burning fossil fuels has had little to no impact on global temperatures.

Science tells us just the opposite. Scientific records tell us that temperatures have risen much faster than the trend over the last 100 years than any time in the last 1000 years.

This warming is not just a natural cycle of warming, but an accelerated warming principally caused by the industrial revolution’s use of fossil fuels to drive the economic engine of world commerce.

Scientists have produced data that shows the world has warmed on average one degree since the year 1900. Scientists have predicted that if the average world temperatures warm more than two degrees since that time there will be a cycle of events that will increase global temperatures even if the global population stopped using fossil fuels from that point onwards.

There is a wide range of impacts associated with global warming that should be considered in Australia and planned for to help mitigate the effects on the Australian people, the way we live and on our economic status in the world’s economy.

The particular climate change impact that we will be focusing on in this paper is climate change induced sea level and coastal flooding caused by extreme weather and tidal events.

Australia is an island and although large will have the effects of sea level rise, severe weather events and tidal inundation around its entire coastline. Much of the population of Australia resides in coastal regions and much of this population is and will increasingly be subject to the effects of wild weather as global temperatures increase.

A smaller proportion of the population live in lower lying areas and the land they occupy will be subject to a variety of effects which include rising sea levels, tidal inundation and higher floods caused by more precipitation caused by more extreme weather events.

Some politicians have suggested that the mitigation processes related to sea level rise should be managed at the State and Local government level. This option has merit in that the bulk of the work in managing these effects should be through State and local government planning instruments. But State and local government do not have the capacity to coordinate strategies to mitigate the effects of the following kind. These are impacts on the social and economic fabric of the nation. This will require a nationwide a response to the effects of climate change induced sea level rise. Only the Federal government will have the overall capacity to co-ordinate an Australian wide approach to these effects on the economy, the environment and the social cohesion of all Australians.

One of the mechanisms that could be used to ensure a coordinated approach would be through enabling federal legislation that would be agreed upon through the COAG process. This legislation would then be dovetailed into all State legislation and then through State government consultation with agencies and local government incorporated into local government planning schemes. This would ensure a best practice approach which would be fairly and uniformly applied across the country.

This process of ensuring a coordinated approach to mitigate the effects of climate change in this one area of sea level rise and associated effects goes to the issue of national security.[1]

The National security of our economic systems within Australia.[2]

Security of markets is about protecting markets within the economy.

Coastal Property markets

The protection of coastal property markets is very important in a growing and prosperous country like Australia. The property market is the bedrock of the economy and a solid source of asset security for the financial sector in Australia.

Potentially affected land by sea level rise up to a level of 1.1 meters above current sea levels hold in the vicinity of $300 billion worth of asset value according to an ABC report in 2013. This asset value does not take into consideration any additional rises due to tidal inundation in storm events.

If people were to overnight loose confidents in the value of these assets, banks would want to foreclose on loans as many properties are included in an asset list securing the loan. A collapse in property values would affect the financial sector and a scarcity of available funds for business using coastal properties as collateral would mean that extreme pressure would be put on business and on jobs court in this situation.

Insurance cover scarcity

Risks associated with buying such properties will mean that insurance providers will not insure coastal properties. At present some of these properties are the most expensive in the total real-estate market and a collapse will deviate the property market.

What are the processes by which such a collapse may occur? Under the current coastal property boom prognosis it is likely that the market will continue to increase without abating until a loss of confidence in the market occurs.

What would be the likely cause of a loss of confidence in the coastal property market without any intervention from the federal or state government? It is likely that the upon a catastrophic storm event that produces very high tides and extensive flooding coastal property owners will start to reassess the viability of staying on the coast.

With the insurance industry being saddled with an overwhelming number of claims for damage and destruction of homes and property, the industry would realise that many insurance premiums are massively too low and a reassessment would follow which would increase premiums. (In this scenario there is a possible situation where an insurance company will not insure a particular property.)

In addition the local governments will be shocked into the reality that they are massively exposed to risk of litigation because they had not responsibly informed the property owners of the heightened risk of inundation due to changing climatic conditions.

Then when coastal property owners attempt to reinsure their properties they find that the premiums are astronomically high or even worst that they cannot insure their property at all due to the risk on the property after a reassessment of risks of storm event damage by the insurance companies.

The devaluation of coastal properties

After a very severe storm or a chain of storms producing flooding and the likelihood of a hike in insurance premiums, property owners will be clambering to move away from the coast. Supply for coast properties will rise and as a result coastal property prices will plummet. This drop in asset value will impact the ability for many businesses to operate in a constrained credit environment.

To explain this we must look at the mechanism that allows businesses to borrow. Businesses borrow from financial institutions like banks because they have a capacity to pay back the loan. Often security on a loan is a property and is put up by the borrower as collateral on the loan in case the ability to pay the loan by the borrower evaporates. If the collateral for the loan is a devalued coastal property then the lender may call in the loan on the basis of the reduced value of the asset to lower the exposure to the loan by the lender or financial institution. This will adversely affect the business. Even if the loan is not called in, the business may need to gain more finance in a growing business. If the coastal property asset used as collateral is a devalued coastal property the business may not be able to gain further finance from the lender.

This process of a financial freeze on a section of the business community will affect jobs and growth in Australia’s economic engine at large. A flow on effect of this is a down turn in tax receipts income and business taxes which affects government revenues.

Local and State governments will be under pressure to raise rates and funds.

With a drop in coastal property prices Local government will have little choice but to increase rates putting further pressure on rate payers and business owners.

With less money in the economy discretionary spending will be down and marginal businesses will go out of business further reducing Australia’s economy.

Local government and State governments will be under extreme pressure to mitigate the impacts of tidal inundation and prolonged flooding. Massive amounts of money will be needed for projects along the coastal regions of the Australian coast. State and local governments will not be able to supply this money even if their revenues had not dropped due to the economic downturn.

Politically speaking there will be a questioning of the fairness to the whole community on spending such a large amount of money on owners of high value coastal properties and propping them up for a few years to keep these properties above the flood waters, just so these owners will not loose asset value of their property in the near term.

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References:

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WWF, Salt water intrusions into ground water supplies, http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/rising_temperatures/sea_levels/, (accessed Jan. 2016)

Armstrong T J, Determination Of Aquifer Properties And Heterogeneity In A Large Coastal Sand Mass: Bribie Island, Southeast Queensland, Bribie Island study of freshwater ground water in a sea water surrounded island, https://core.ac.uk/download/files/310/10884977.pdf, (accessed Jan. 2016)

Lapowski I, Oct 2015, Wired Web site, How climate Change became a national security problem. Ref. http://www.wired.com/2015/10/how-climate-change-became-a-national-security-problem/ (accessed Feb. 2016)

Abel N, Gordard R, Harman B, Leitch A M, Langridge J, Ryan A, Sea level rise, coastal development and planned retreat: analytical framework, governance principles and an Australian case study https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anne_Leitch/publication/236005298_Sea_level_rise_coastal_development_and_planned_retreat_analytical_framework_governance_principles_and_an_Australian_case_study/links/0c96051870c0b6bfe8000000.pdf (accessed Jan. 2016)

NSW Environment and Heritage – Adapt NSW http://www.climatechange.environment.nsw.gov.au/Impacts-of-climate-change/Sea-level-and-coasts (accessed Feb. 2016)

ABC News, 14th Jan 2013, $300 billion of properties at risk with sea level rise of up to 1.1 meters, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-14/how-will-rising-seas-impact-australia/4460688, (accessed Jan. 2016)

ABC News, Prevention Web – Australia; Rising sea levels may put $300 billion of properties at risk – source ABC news, http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/news/v.php?id=30516, (accessed Feb. 2016)

Garnaut review, Chapter 6, Climate Change impacts on Australia, http://www.garnautreview.org.au/pdf/Garnaut_Chapter6.pdf, (accessed Feb. 2016)

Holland David, Habitat Association Blog site, Planning for Sea Level Rise Risk in some Coastal Regions of Australia – A Market Approach, https://habitattownplanningforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/planning-for-climate-change-the-risk-model-for-sea-level-rise-discussion-paper-3rd-edition-rev1-20151.pdf, (accessed Feb. 2016)

Australian Government, Australian stories, Australian Farming agriculture – grazing and cropping, Effects of Climate change on Agriculture and food production at risk due to sea level rise, http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-farming-and-agriculture, (accessed Jan. 2016)

Holland David, Habitat Association Blog site, Climate Change related sea level rise Policy changes in NSW, https://habitattownplanningforum.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/climate-change-related-sea-level-rise-policy-changes-in-new-south-wales/ (accessed Feb. 2016)

Payet Rolf, Antoine Moustache, Sea Level Rise, Climate Change and Its Impacts on Food Security in SIDS: Challenges and Opportunities, http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/foodclimate/forum/SRLF_Payets.pdf

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/, (accessed Feb. 2016)

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Climate Change related Sea Level Rise Policy changes in New South Wales

16 Apr

by David Holland

This is an up dated paper first written in 2010 but still relevant in 2015 more than ever with continued evidence of the effects of chimate change in a range of environments.  The paper can be viewed through the link at the bottom of this web page. Since this paper was written in 2010 there has been a series of developments related to both NSW State government and some Central Coast local government councils and their policies. After the Labor State government announced in 2009 the recognition of sea level rise being a scientific fact through the Draft Flood Risk Management Guide published by the Department of Environment and Climate Change Water (DECCW) several predictable things happened. Firstly we need to understand that the DECCW based finding of 900mm sea level rise by the year 2100 on the shores of NSW is from data produced by the 2007 fourth session report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[1]. This report indicated that sea level rise was predicted under present emission levels and a projected increase was expected to be between 1 meter and 3.7 meters by the year 2100. From the 5th session report of the IPCC in 2013 further information has been gathered and more finding published on sea level rise predictions. However, after the initial IPCC report and the NSW State government considering the revision of flood level planning and standards in the State, local councils who have been starting to implement the new planning standards along the coastal regions, experienced a backlash from land owners. As predicted in the paper in 2010, insurance premiums started to rise on coastal properties. Councils through a due diligence processes began to realize that if a house were to be approved for development and was likely to have a life span of 60 to 100 years, the minimum floor level should reflect the projected sea level rise at or up to the year 2100. This has meant that the full height of the increase of sea level assessed to be 900mm by the year 2100 was now the new standard for the calculation of the minimum floor level. This has also meant that flood planning had to reflect the maximum level of expected flood over the next 90 years as if it were the standard for today. This in turn alerted the insurance companies and skewed their risk assessment process, which had to reflect the new standard of 900mm. As a result insurance premiums went up to previously unheard of levels. Some property owners were experiencing insurance premiums of over $4000 a year. The political backlash was so great that coastal councils started to ignore due diligence and allow homes to be built at current floor levels without consideration for the State government’s Draft Risk Management Guide 2009. After a change of government and due to the political backlash, the State government also decided to backtrack from their mandatory standard floor level assessment as an interim measure for councils without an updated flood management plan reflecting the new State government predictions of 900mm by the year 2100. Instead the State government, through its department has change the guidelines to reflect a non specific approach to sea level rise but still maintaining the fact that sea levels will rise to the 900mm previously suggested, but now has put the onus of providing flood level risk information to land owners onto the local councils, opening the way for them to ignore the 2007 IPCC report.[2] [3] The fifth session 2013 IPCC report when commenting on climate change induced sea level rise was very careful to report a range of scenarios, qualifying and re-qualifying projections. If we were to read between the lines of qualification, for the east coast of Australia, a lower level prediction for average sea level rise would be between 300mm and 480mm from present day 2013 levels by the year 2100.[4] [5] However, one very important and significant component of the sea level projection is missing and that is storm surge predictions that must be atop the sea level rise due to global sea warming causing seawater expansion and ice cap melting. This brings a conservative sea level rise risk in a storm event to up to 800 mm or more by the year 2100 depending on the intensity of the off shore weather event present. Since with increasing evidence of more intense storm events now considered to be caused by global warning, and the prediction that increased global warming will precipitate more such events, higher levels of sea level surge is likely to be more prevalent. Faced with this evidence and the new provisions of the guidelines placing onus on council to assess risk, Gosford Council in early 2014 has finally decided to acknowledge the risk of litigation it has been exposed to by previously deleting flood references on the 149 certificates in 2012.[6] After the recommendation by the State government, the council has again decided to implement a notice on each likely affected property to recognize increased risks of sea level rise and tidal inundation along with its flooding notifications. These notices were attached to each property through the provisions of section 149 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.[7] This should now put pressure in other coastal councils to do likewise. However, under this provision of open information about property characteristics, it again presents a likelihood that insurance companies will reconsider the provisional notice an indicator for increased risk of flooding of the subject property and raise premiums in line with the perceived risk associated with sea level rise. In addition, in light of the new IPCC 5th report, these actions of both the NSW State government and local councils, highlights the lack of due diligence in the policy settings of the State government and perhaps the Federal government in ignoring probable reactions of the insurance companies. Governments need to accept the real probability of climate change induced sea level rise and strategically plan appropriate legislation to ensure a smooth path to higher sea levels in Australia. This paper gives a strategy for the State governments throughout Australia and coastal local governments to deal with insurance risks and progressive sea level rise over the next 90 years and beyond. This paper offers a way to consider forward planning in a context of the risks associated with climate change induced sea level rise. The Strategy advocates a local councils partnership with both State and the Federal Government to provide ways to provide insurance cover and infrastructure to reduce risks to coastal properties.

[1] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), fourth report 2007, http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/main.html

[2] NSW Planning and Infrastructure – Coastal Management and adapting to sea level rise, (ref. http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/en-us/planningyourregion/coastalprotection/adaptingtosealevelrise.aspx)

[3] NSW Planning, NSW Coastal Planning Guidelines – Adapting to Sea Level Rise (2010), (Ref.http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Portals/0/PlansForAction/pdf/SeaLevelRise_Policy_web%5B1%5D.pdf)

[4]Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report 2013, (ref. (http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_Chapter13_FINAL.pdf)

[5]This above statement should be read as a conservative figure for sea level rise and depending on how the future circumstances change levels could be considerably higher.

[6] Sea Level Rise in Gosford Council area, http://www.gosford.nsw.gov.au/environment/sea-level-rise

[7] See Article Central Coast Express Advocate, Friday March 28, 2014; “Sea rise rules upset”.

To see the full paper follow the link below: Planning for Climate Change – The Risk Model for Sea Level Rise Discussion Paper – 3rd Edition Rev 1

Risks and impacts on governments and the community when planning coal mining projects in urban growth areas

25 Nov

Wallarah 2 Coal Project Rev 2 March 2014Planning for population growth is one of the challenges Australia has to face to ensure a good socio-economic future. This means that mismanagement and errors due to bad planning will affect our prosperity both individually and as a nation.

Currently Australia is going through an increase in applications for mining operations. Some of the recent policy of State governments has been to embrace mining and exports to improve royalty revenues. In the face of climate change, Australian states are continuing to give approvals for mining operations to take advantage of carbon-based resources.

This paper will investigate how a population growth area and a coal mining application are in conflict on the Central Coast of New South Wales (NSW). It identifies a range of planning principals for urban growth areas and superimposes a real life proposal for a mining operation within the locality of the growth area on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

The paper looks at planning processes, the potential impacts related to the mine’s coal loader and indicates how the risk of these impacts can affect socio-economic factors during construction, operation and after the mining operation has ceased.

The paper attempts to describe through some planning theory how the incompatibilities of urban development and a mining operation plays out. It shows by using as its argument a real life mining proposal within close proximity to proposed urban development in the form of a new green fields city planned for the Central Coast, a plan that has been documented since the publication of the 1975 Central Coast strategic plan.

Within this paper is the case study based on the application for a long wall mining operation by Kores Australia (a company owned by Korean and Japanese investors). It investigates impacts related to a proposed coal loader planned to be located near the intersection of the M1 motorway and the Link Road to Doyalson. The case study gives some analysis to the proposed mine head’s proximity to other existing and proposed urban developments, and natural environments in the North Wyong area.

The paper suggests that the externalities associated with the coal loader and transport of the coal to the coal loader at the Port of Newcastle create risks. If these risks are realised through the construction and operation of the mine head works it could create socio-economic repercussions for the local council, the state government and individuals.

The paper attempts to be objective showing an understanding of the economics of mining operations and need to accommodate population growth, but in the final analysis, risks and evidence seems to be weighted towards an incompatibility between mining and urban developments in the same locality.

Follow the link below to see the entire paper:

Paper in PDF format