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Rising Sea Levels – Australian Panel Suggests Moving People Inland

by Gopalan on  October 27, 2009 at 3:00 PM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
Rising Sea Levels – Australian Panel Suggests Moving People Inland
People on the Australian coastline may be forcibly moved inland, a federal parliamentary report has suggested.

The report - Managing Our Coastal Zone in a Changing Climate - showed coastal inundation was set to impact on every state and the Northern Territory.
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The Lower House Environment Committee spent 18 months examining the effect the changing climate will have on coastal Australia. As the Federal Government and Opposition settle into negotiations over the emissions trading legislation, the  committee called for a new sense of urgency to address the impact of climate.

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The report, presented to federal parliament last night by climate change committee head Jennie George, contained 47 recommendations.

It suggested powers to stop building development.

It could also stop occupation of land considered at risk from the sea.

The recommendations also include mandatory disclosure to potential purchasers of all known climate change risk data.

Ms George's report also calls for the Australian Law Reform Commission to create a legal instrument to force the redesign, relocation, rebuilding, elevation or retreat from properties under threat from sea level rise, storm surge and coastal flooding.

The recommendations include calls for greater protection for coastal wetland, the increase in size of coastal buffer zones and the creation of pathways for migration of animals.

Also covered is the need for improved evacuation routes from coastal areas, the use of surf lifesaving club networks to assist disaster management and a national assessment of coastal infrastructure vulnerable to being flooded from rising sea levels.

They seek an accurate measure by the Australian Bureau of Statistics of the numbers of tourists and the impacts of non-residents in coastal areas to better match resources with demand.

The recommendations call for the Australian Building Code to be reviewed and for all land use planning policies to take climate change effects into account.

Also, it would define coastal ecosystems as a matter of national environmental significance under a beefed up Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The tighter controls on beach access are part of a national shorebird protection strategy.

That strategy would also create buffer zones for the migration of coastal bird habitat lost to sea level rises.

It also references studies from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) which estimate sea levels in New South Wales will rise by 100cm by 2100, saying authorities should take the studies into account.

The report proved the nation has more to lose than others, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.

"Australia has more to lose through continued inaction on climate change than do our competitor economies," he told Parliament today.

"As we have been warned today by this report ... the real cost for Australia of continued inaction on climate change is deep and enduring and damaging to our economy and damaging to the nation's environment," Mr.Rudd said.

With 80 per cent of Australia's population based in coastal areas, its a recommendation that could have significant implications, but it's pleased Alan Stokes from the National Sea Change Taskforce.

He said, "There are areas around the Australian coast that are vulnerable to such an extent to the impact of climate change, that there can be no guarantee that people can live there in the future in a sense of security and there is a need to get government agreement on this."

He told ABC Radio that the committee's recommendations should be treated as a blueprint for the future of Australia's coastline.

House of Representatives Committee David Airey, president of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, says erosion of coastal land is a growing problem, and suggests the debate over government measures to protect beachside properties could prompt property owners to consider selling while prices are high.

"This will have a big effect, if, as a result of the inquiry, there were designated areas that were marked as endangered, similar to areas that are prone to flooding. Those areas are going to suffer reduced values and obviously significantly higher insurance premiums."

"I'm not going to suggest everyone living on a property or coastal region should sell their property, but certainly it's worth considering if it's likely that you will have, or already have, a property in one of those areas."

Source: Medindia
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