Councils’ sea change

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Councils’ sea change

By Matt Dunn
BASS COAST mayor Peter Paul believes the Federal Government must commit money and resources to help fight the effects of climate change.
Cr Paul attended the National Seachange Taskforce conference in Byron Bay, NSW, recently and saw first hand the most devastating aspects of coastal erosion.
“We’ve got to be cognisant of the issues surrounding sea change in planning. It’s not something you can just wave a wand at. This is going to take some very strategic planning and an enormous amount of resources to address these issues,” he said. 
“We need the Federal Government to work in harmony with the local governments to ensure we can address these issues. It’s alright to say we have these issues and we have these difficulties we’ve got to address, but somehow or other we have to have the resources to do it.
“That’s where we need to have a partnership with the Federal Government.”
Cr Paul said the cost of studies on coastal erosion alone were huge: “The dollars there are infinite.”
“Councils just can’t find this money overnight. First of all councils have to have the data to understand the problem. Once we understand the problem, what’s the way ahead for addressing it? The thing we can’t do is pretend it doesn’t exist,” he said.
“It exists and what we have to do is say, these are the issues, what’s the best way ahead? Let’s move ahead in the interests of every person on the coast.”
Cr Paul said the “problems being experienced by Bass Coast and South Gippsland” were being replicated around the entire country.
In Byron Bay, those who attended the conference were shown coastal properties that were close to falling into the ocean, due to extreme erosion.
“The issues of Byron Bay and Mandurah in Western Australia are the same as the ones we’re facing. We don’t need five different answers. We need one answer that works for all of us and that’s the way ahead,” he said.
“Already in Byron Bay some of the houses are being undermined by storm surges. They can’t sell a couple of the houses we saw. They can’t sell and they can’t insure. And the only thing that’s going to happen to those houses is they’re going to drop into the ocean. There’s no way around it.
“We’re talking substantial homes dropping into the ocean.”
Cr Paul said Bass Coast Council had made a submission to the Federal Government asking for help with the issue, along with many other coastal councils around Australia.
South Gippsland Shire Council’s CEO Tim Tamlin, who also attended the conference, said the problem was “so complex” as it dealt with “projections and figures and data where people could argue that’s not right as well.
“It’s more of a heads up, keep this in the back of your mind, and don’t forget these key points. Sea level rises have been recognised by the government, as with the Waratah Bay planning decision,” he said.
“The government’s saying, yes, this has been recognised. So we need to be mindful of that too.”
Mr Tamlin said not heeding the warnings of sea level rises in planning decisions left councils open to the prospect of litigation.
“That wasn’t something that was actually stated, but it was implicit in all the discussions,” he said.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=165

Posted by SiteAdmin on Mar 16 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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