Coastal climate sours

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Coastal climate sours

By Jane Ross
SIXTEEN planning applications before South Gippsland Council have been put on hold because of climate change issues.
The shire has unwittingly become a test case for such matters.
Its land mass is now pressed between two planning “thorns” – sea level rise and wildfire management overlays.
The latter came in two weeks ago.
The former awaits clear Federal and State policy direction.
That’s unlikely to come soon, hence council’s action with the 16 applications.
It’s about risk management explained mayor Cr Jim Fawcett.
The move follows the handing down of a VCAT decision refusing a subdivision at Waratah Bay.
“Our planning seems to be at the forefront of this issue,” said Cr Fawcett, “we haven’t seen a case like this in St Kilda or Elwood for example.”
The Waratah Bay subdivision permit was refused on the grounds that because of climate change, it would be the subject of sea level rise and inundation.
Applicant Jim Harry isn’t happy.
His dream of developing a seafood restaurant and reception centre on the Waratah foreshore has been dashed.
“It’s unfair to make up a rule like this out of the air,” he declared.
He’s considering his options, including applying to have the site rezoned commercial. This, he said, would change the building codes and regulations.
“It’s on the radar. I’d say that’s the way we can go.”
Jim, a builder and chef, operates the Waratah Bay Caravan Park. He wanted to put his restaurant/reception centre on land on the corner of Gale and Brown streets, overlooking the beach.
The council said “yes” early last November. Objectors took it to VCAT which called for a coastal hazard vulnerability assessment before making a decision.
And that resulted in a firm “no” on the grounds that “by 2100 without mitigation measures, there will be no dune, no foreshore access, no road and the subject site will be inundated with seawater”.
Cr Fawcett said the implications of that VCAT decision are far reaching not only for South Gippsland, but all other coastal municipalities in Victoria and beyond.
The 16 affected applications are on temporary hold, pending a council review of the key issues in the VCAT decision.
The mayor said the issue of the impact of climate change and sea level rise is one that is “highly topical and rapidly evolving”.
Jim Harry has his own view.
“The planet is cooling.”
Cr Fawcett said the State Planning Department was yet to provide local government with clear and consistent direction in dealing with climate change and coastal planning.
“Council acknowledges that the development of policy at State level will take time.”
Action is needed in the interim.
So shire staff are working out what to do.
Their research is due to come before councillors on April 7, when a decision will be made about where to go from here.
“Council does not wish to be alarmist in this matter…. however, it would be unwise of council to ignore the issue,” said the mayor.
Bass Coast CEO Allan Bawden said newly detailed mapping of the Gippsland coast showed which areas were subject to sea level rise. That and the Victorian Coastal Strategy requiring councils to allow for a .8 sea level rise in any new strategic planning documents, provided useful planning tools.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=155

Posted by SiteAdmin on Feb 23 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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