‘Storm of litigation’ on horizon

LOCAL councils were this week urged to respond to the Department of Planning’s draft coastal planning guidelines.

The guidelines, released this week, suggest councils ‘avoid intensifying land use in coastal risk areas’.

The advice is based on new figures which predict sea levels will rise by 40cm by 2050 and 90cm by 2100.

Speaking in Ballina this week, director of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, Professor Rodger Tomlinson, said solutions needed to be put forward now to allow for a transition to longer-term solutions.

“There will be a storm of litigation if we don’t get this right,” he said.

“What is going to make this work? We have different problems in different places, but I think it’s time that we took action to prevent problems in the future.

“One of the key things is community awareness.”

The draft guidelines are open for community consultation until December 11.

Professor Bruce Thom, from the Australian Coastal Society, said the department’s guidelines would ‘provide more certainty’.

“But there will be those people who will do all that they can to prevent this government from going forward,” he said.

“We still have difficulties, we still have problems.

“But unless we do something there will be more and more court cases.”

Prof Tomlinson also praised the recent report on climate change from the House of Representatives.

He said it was a ‘framework for action’.

“It is one of the best reports we have seen in a long time,” he said.

“We need a national approach.

“The thing that worries me most is that there are differing scientific opinions.”

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