Government and council coastal plans dovetail
  • Thursday 07 April 2011

The announcement of the new Queensland Coastal Plan indicates similar thinking and planning by both the State Government and Sunshine Coast Council.

The plan confirms what council has known for some time: that low-lying areas of the coastal plain will become more prone to weather and tidal events; that erosion is a reality which must be managed; that sea levels are rising, albeit slowly; and that storm surges are likely to reach further inland and cause more damage when sea levels are higher.

The State Government plan directs that planning in coastal areas will consider a 100-year planning period and a projected sea level rise of 0.8 metres (above 1990 levels) by 2100 due to climate change.

Council has long been working on a two-pronged strategy of preparation and prevention, having already developed its Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy and its Waterways and Coastal Management Plan – and is in the process of developing a Shoreline Erosion Management Strategy.

All these plans are based on similar modelling to the State Government’s, placing Sunshine Coast Council among the most prepared local authorities in the nation.

Evidence of council’s proactive approach to coastal management can be seen in the work put in to protecting Mooloolaba and Noosa Spits along with design work to protect other beaches, dunal areas and river estuaries.

Council’s Manager Environment Policy, Stephen Skull, said it was important to remember that the projections of sea level rises, erosion and storm surges are over the next 90 years, so effects are likely to be gradual.

"Everyone who owns a property close to a shoreline has long been aware of its risks and the State announcement does not change anything in that regard," Dr Skull said.

"That said, residents who live near water may be concerned and can use the maps to make more informed long term decisions about their individual property.

"It’s worth remembering that these figures only indicate outcomes were we not to take any action to address them – but we are taking action to protect the Sunshine Coast region and we will continue to do so.

Planning Chair, Cr Russell Green welcomed the State Government’s recognition of climate change and its increasing effects on Queensland’s coastline, and said managing climate change was a task for everyone in small and large ways.

"While council is doing all it can to manage the impacts of increasingly powerful weather events, changing our living habits contributes strongly to reducing the effects of climate change," he said.

"Ultimately, this is a journey we must all make together."

He said the announcement was well-timed for council's work.

"We are just getting into finalising our planning constraints mapping," he said.

"To have in place the state planning policies will ensure we are at least in a minimum compliance position with our proposed new planning scheme.

"We have been waiting for this piece of legislation to come and its arrival is timely," Cr Green said.

Further information is available on council’s website and on the DERM website.