Climate Change Readiness (Coastal Planning and Protection) Bill 2012

Attached is a consultation draft (Green) Bill for coastal planning that I intend to introduce this year. The Bill provides for the regulation of planning, development and management in the coastal zone in readiness for the impacts of climate change. I would welcome your support for this Bill, and also your comments and suggestions.

In March last year I circulated to a diverse group of stakeholders a discussion paper on state coastal planning legislation, which has been on the Greens’ agenda for many years. Invaluable feedback was provided in response to the discussion paper and at a subsequent workshop. I am now pleased to enclose the product of that feedback, subsequent consultation, research and drafting – the Climate Change Readiness (Coastal Planning and Protection) Bill 2012.

Impacts of climate change
The scientific evidence is clear that the climate is changing and the impacts of climate change are well documented. Scientific predictions for Australia over the coming decades indicate that our most populous regions will be affected by fluctuating temperatures, rising sea levels, more frequent and intense storms, increased aridity and flooding. The need to mitigate and adapt to these impacts is increasingly urgent.

An Australian policy context
Other Australian States are ahead of Western Australia in preparing for coastal climate change. Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia all have coastal management and/or protection legislation in addition to coastal policies, strategies and plans. South Australia established the Coastal Protection Board Strategic Plan for 2009-2014 and Victoria is considered to be the most progressive of the States in terms of mapping, vulnerability assessments and "future coasts" programs. In Western Australia, an updated State Coastal Planning Policy 2.6 and Guidelines have just been released for public comment, after 2 years in the pipeline. This is progress, but policy is not enough. The Bill provides the contemporary planning law that is needed to address climate change: SPP 2.6 will provide the policy foundation and framework that will support the Bill.

The Bill takes into account the latest climate science estimates in relation to sea level rise, storm surges and flooding. In line with SPP 2.6, a projected rise in global mean sea level of 0.9m by 2110 can be adopted for the purposes of the Bill.

Vulnerability of coastal zone
The coastal region of Western Australia is home to approximately 80% of the State’s population, and much of it is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The coastline is long and complex with diverse biophysical features. The coast includes tropical and temperate climates, ancient and recent geological formations, and a variety of onshore and offshore currents. These physical factors interact to support high levels of biological diversity among and within the terrestrial, estuarine and marine systems that characterise our coast, including dunal systems, coastal heathlands and forests, sandy shores, rocky shores, coastal wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs, temperate reefs, sea-grass meadows, sponge gardens and island systems. These habitats, many of which include endangered and vulnerable species, are at risk from climate change impacts. The Western Australian coastal lifestyle is also vulnerable to these impacts, whether from the loss of a favourite beach, a washed out road, or risks to ports and other infrastructure.

Planning in WA
The Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) is the predominant planning scheme for land use in Perth and sets the framework for land use and development in the metropolitan area. The Peel Region Scheme is the key planning scheme that guides land use in the Peel Region, including the local government boundaries of the City of Mandurah and the shires of Murray and Waroona. The Greater Bunbury Region Scheme covers the City of Bunbury and the shires of Harvey, Dardanup and Capel. Neither the region schemes, nor the statutes mentioned, specifically contemplate the vulnerability of the Western Australian coast to the impacts of climate change.

A proposed approach to preparing for climate change

• The importance of planning decisions: Planning decisions based on the most up-to-date climate science are needed to protect vulnerable biodiversity hotspots and natural environments. Recreational values of the coast should also be protected. Planning decisions should be able to accommodate the effects of the changing coastal environment on our urban infrastructure and the impacts of our urban infrastructure on the coastal environment, in order to protect both.

• Flexible and proactive strategies: Local governments are fundamental to the implementation of good planning decisions. These governments need to have in place proactive adaptation and management strategies that include forward planning for emergencies. Such strategies need to adopt principles of adaptive management to be flexible enough to accommodate updated climate projections and the realities of a dynamic society.

 Precautionary action: It is well recognised that the “[a]voidance of future risk is the most cost effective adaptation response, particularly where development has not yet occurred” (Department of Climate Change (2009). Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coast, Australian Government, p. 8). Clear parameters in relation to liability need to be set. All levels of government need to be involved and local governments in particular must be empowered and resourced to implement planning principles that prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The Bill seeks to codify these principles.

Appreciation for contributions
Many people have contributed over many years to the development of this legislation. Many have also provided invaluable feedback and commented on the timeliness, imperative and the approach taken. I acknowledge their input and enthusiasm with appreciation.

Your support and comments welcome
I would greatly appreciate your support for this important legislation and welcome any comments and suggestions you have on this Green Bill. I will host an information session and workshop in May 2012. If you wish to participate in a workshop to address queries, collect and collate feedback, then please contact my office.

Kind regards
Hon Lynn MacLaren MLC
Member for the South Metropolitan Region
Greens WA spokesperson on Planning

Attachment Size
Climate Change Readiness consultation draft Bill.pdf 198.03 KB
Timelines within the Bill.pdf 7.42 KB
Key Processes in WA Coastal Plan.pdf 191.63 KB
Letter re Green Bill on Coastal Planning 10042012 .pdf 776.56 KB
WA Coastal Regions - Primary & Secondary Compartments.pdf 183.7 KB