Shoalhaven identified in Federal Government Report on Coastal Assets at Risk
The Federal Government has released a report identifying coastal infrastructure and assets that are at risk from climate change. The report entitled “Climate Change Risks to Coastal Buildings and Infrastructure” was released by the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet MP on Sunday 5th June 2011 and featured prominently in stories in both Sunday newspapers.
The report identifies significant risks to commercial and light industrial infrastructure and road and rail systems around Australia’s coast, based on a sea level rise scenario of 1.1 metres by 2100. It is acknowledged however that this predicated rise represents a high end scenario.
Australia wide it is predicated that a range of coastal assets will be at risk from the combination of inundation (flooding) and erosion, including between 5,800 and 8,600 commercial buildings, between 3,700 and 6,200 light industrial buildings and between 27,000 and 35,000 km of roads and rail. The Report predicts that all up more than $226 billion of coastal assets nationally are potentially at risk from climate change.
In releasing the report the Minister indicated that “governments of all levels need to be aware of the potential future costs of climate change” and that “we can also reduce our vulnerability to impacts we can’t avoid by using the best available science to plan timely and cost effective adaptation measures”.
Shoalhaven is specifically identified in the report as one of the coastal local governments in NSW that will be substantially affected under the sea level rise scenario. It is predicated that up to 344 km of roads, 20 km of railway line and 95 commercial buildings will be affected. Council has however already undertaken a detailed climate change risk management assessment of its public assets. This assessment was at a more local level and showed a much lower number of buildings and roads actually at risk than the Federal Report. The data used in the Australia wide study is at a broad scale. Council’s planning considers a wider range of public assets such as community buildings and sewage and water supply infrastructures.
After reviewing the Report, Shoalhaven City Mayor, Councillor Paul Green indicated that he was “happy that the Federal Government is continuing to invest time and effort in researching and detailing the potential effects of climate change on the NSW coast. Council has also being doing its own work so that it is well placed to respond to climate change scenarios”.
“Council has appropriate processes in place to ensure it can continue to deliver a high level of service to the community. We have Asset Management Plans and inspection regimes in place and are actively developing, implementing and updating flood risk management plans and a Coastal Zone Management Plan to ensure we are considering the latest scientific information. This ensures that, in partnership with our community, we are well placed to adapt to the challenges that climate change and sea level rise will bring”. Clr. Green said
Clr Green concluded by indicating that “Council is conscious of its role in responding to climate change and has completed or commenced a range of projects that will assist in this regard. However the Federal and State Governments need to better resource and fund local Councils to respond to this emerging issue in the longer term and I have already written to both levels of government in this regard.”
The “Climate Change Risks to Coastal Buildings and Infrastructure” report will be reported to a future meeting of Council’s Sustainable Shoalhaven Committee and is available on the internet at:
CONTACT: Strategic Planning Manager Gordon Clark (02) 4429 3355