Tuesday, 10 November 2009

NSW North Coast begins to wonder what may happen if goverment doesn't get climate change coastal planning provisions right

One can almost see the shape of a looming battle between Northern Rivers communities, local & state governments and developers over how to proceed with climate change adaptation and growth.

The NSW Government trying to appease big political donors and the building industry, councils trying to expand their rate bases to cover costs and please local developers, communities lobbying hard to ensure that risk levels are not increased by the burden of higher populations on vulnerable land and individuals fighting tooth and claw to protect that family home, expensive retirement 'castle' or superannunation investment.

Excerpt from NSW Government NSW Sea Level Rise Policy Statement, October 2009:

In simple terms, sea level rise will raise the average water level of oceans and estuaries. As the average water level rises, so too will high and low tide levels affecting the natural processes responsible for shaping the NSW coastline. Exactly how the coast and estuaries will respond is complex and often driven by local conditions but, in general, higher sea levels will lead to:

increased or permanent tidal inundation of land by seawater

recession of beach and dune systems and to a lesser extent cliffs and bluffs

changes in the way that tides behave within estuaries

saltwater extending further upstream in estuaries...........

The sea level rise planning benchmarks can be used for purposes such as:

incorporating the projected impacts of sea level rise on predicted flood risks and coastal hazards

designing and upgrading of public and private assets in low-lying coastal areas where appropriate, taking into account the design life of the asset and the projected sea level rise over this period

assessing the influence of sea level rise on new development (see below for further details)

considering the impact of sea level rise on coastal and estuarine habitats (such as salt marshes) and identifying valuable habitats at most risk from sea level rise

assessing the impact of changed salinity levels in estuaries, including implications for access to fresh water.

The Northern Star reported on 6 November 2009:

COASTAL erosion problems at Lennox Head will be as bad as those at Belongil in less than 20 years, an environmental engineer has warned.
GeoLINK's Charlie Hewitt yesterday hosted a field trip to coastal hazard zones between Ballina and Lennox Head as part of the NSW Coastal Conference.
He said Lennox Head was 'on the emergency radar'.
"Planning and processes can't keep up with what science is discovering about climate change," he said.
"In 20 years, or less, we will be having the same problems in Lennox that Belongil is having now.

Also from The Northern Star; Crunch time for coastal erosion .

Meanwhile developers complained about the Draft NSW Coastal Planning Guideline: Adapting to Sea Level Rise in The Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday:

PROPERTY groups have criticised a planning policy aimed at limiting development in coastal regions, raising fears it has the potential to prevent construction in huge areas. As the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, defended the draft policy to stop development in areas subject to sea-level rises, developers said it went too far and could unfairly restrict the right to build in many areas. The Urban Development Institute of Australia's NSW chief executive, Stephen Albin, said he was worried that hazard lines to be drawn up by councils based on predicted sea-level rises of 90 centimetres by 2100 could determine which projects were allowed to proceed. "We would be concerned if the 2100 hazard line becomes the default planning control," he said.

NSW Dept. of Planning 05 Nov 09 - Draft Sea Level Rise Guideline - have your say.

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