Climate Change- Impact on Coastal Planning

Question Without Notice No. 803 asked in the Legislative Council on 14 October 2010 by Hon Lynn Maclaren

38 Session: 1


803. Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the minister representing the Minister for Planning:

I refer to, and welcome, the state government’s recent decision to amend the assumed mean sea level rise for planning purposes from 0.38 metres by 2100 to 0.9 metres by 2110.

(1) To achieve good planning outcomes in coastal areas, is it the intention of government to require coastal vulnerability assessments that consider climate change impacts from sea level rise and increased severity and frequency of storms?

(2) What body or level of government is best placed to complete these assessments?

(3) Has the government undertaken detailed coastal vulnerability assessments for the WA coastline that identify natural and human assets at risk if the mean sea level rise is 0.9 metres?

(4) If yes to (3), have those assessments also factored in increased storminess as a result of climate change?

(5) If no to (3), what, if anything, does the government intend to do in order to have the relevant studies undertaken, and by when will the studies be finalised?

Hon PETER COLLIER replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question, which I answer on behalf of the Minister for Child Protection.

(1) The state coastal planning policy—SPP 2.6—requires all planning for coastal areas to have considered the potential climate change impacts of sea level rise and storm events. SPP 2.6 is currently being reviewed, and the policy will be further developed and additional guidance provided on how potential impacts should be taken into consideration to achieve good planning outcomes.

(2) The important work of adapting to the impacts of climate change requires the participation of all levels of government as well as private interests and land owners. The need of coastal vulnerability assessments, and determining who is best placed to undertake them, is best identified on a case-by-case basis, with consideration of the nature and scale of coastal plan or particular development proposal. For example, broad regional assessment may be undertaken by state government or regional groupings of local governments, and detailed local assessments, which are necessary to inform decisions about specific assets, need to be led by local governments and/or by proponents. Partnerships to provide the funding and technical rigour for these vulnerability assessments will be essential.

(3) Coastal vulnerability assessments are initiated or facilitated as opportunities arise. For example, a high resolution bathymetric and seabed survey of the coastal areas between Two Rocks and Cape Naturaliste has been undertaken to support the development of spatial models. This is available for use in projects such as the Department of Planning, Western Australian Planning Commission and Geoscience Australia collaboration to deliver a new storm surge and climate change inundation modelling tool currently being piloted in Bunbury, Mandurah and subsequently Busselton.

(4) The work that is being undertaken to assess vulnerability to climate change has taken due consideration of both the implications of sea level rise and the alterations to the patterns of storms that impact our coast. However, the science on changes to the occurrence and intensity of storms continues to develop. Methodologies around the impacts of storminess will need to adapt as this scientific work improves.

(5) As already mentioned, the government has initiated or facilitated coastal vulnerability assessments as opportunities have arisen. This important work will continue on an ongoing basis and will take advantage of improvements in assessment techniques and models, and of developments in the science and understanding of climate change, as and when opportunities arise.

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