Courtesy of Tourism Sunshine Coast

Action needed on sea level rise

A NEW government report on climate change has predicted a sea level rise of 1.1 metre by 2100.

National Sea Change Taskforce executive director, Alan Stokes, is urging local councils to consider the new report when assessing development applications or they could face costly legal actions.

Just over a week ago, the predicted sea level rise was 0.9m.

And some councils – including Ballina Shire Council – are using figures from 2003, which predict an increase of only 0.5m.

But Mr Stokes said approving developments using these figures could lead to major legal problems.

“No consent authority in the nation can now argue they were unaware of a potential sea level rise of 1.1m by the year 2100,” he said.

“That now appears to have become the default scenario, with some local variation, which planners around Australia will need to take into account when considering any coastal development application.”

Ballina Shire Council’s civil services group manager, John Truman, said the council was working on a new coastline management plan.

He said it defined the coastal erosion hazards and used the latest figures available.

A draft of the plan will soon be presented to government agencies and industry experts.

The council is also developing a climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy.

Mr Truman said this would include a climate change risk assessment and sea level rise action plan.

It will be developed by the council with guidance from the Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities at LaTrobe University.

Byron Shire Council’s controversial draft Coastal Zone Management Plan is on public exhibition until December 22.

This policy supports planned retreat, which aims to have a 20-metre, development-free buffer along the coastline.

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