Gosford Council has adopted a new sea level rise planning level that will provide it with a flexible strategic position to guide the region’s future planning.
The decision, which was made on Tuesday, March 10, following over an hour of debate, was not an easy one for councillors who struggled to reach a decision.
The new planning level is based on the projection that sea level will rise 20 centimetres by 2050.
Gosford City mayor Cr Lawrie McKinna said the decision replaced the climate change scenario previously endorsed by Council that sea level would rise 40 centimetres by 2050.
“A key part of the recent community debate has been whether the sea level rise scenarios adopted by Council in 2013 aligned with current thinking and the recommendations of last year’s International Panel on Climate Change report,” mayor Cr McKinna said.
“We’ve always been committed to reviewing these scenarios as soon as possible after the release of the Panel’s latest report.
“Given the significant planning studies we’re currently undertaking along Gosford City’s coastline and the recent community concern, we prioritised an independent review of the scenarios.
“Last night’s decision by Council to reduce our sea level rise planning levels is based on the latest scientific evidence about how global emissions are tracking.
“This new planning level strikes the right balance between our future planning, the community’s needs, and important environmental factors.
“Plus, rather than prohibiting development, these new levels allow us to take a flexible riskbased management approach to development in areas potentially affected by sea level rise and properly look at how different types of development and infrastructure could be affected over its expected life.
“It’s important that we manage this risk as well as make sure land can be viably used for as long as possible and our community’s interests are part of our future planning,” he said.
The Council also decided to review its sea level rise planning levels each Council term or within two years of any new International Panel on Climate Change report to ensure they are still relevant.
“We know that we need these planning levels to help with our coastal management, but we also recognise that there also needs to be an ongoing review of available science and water level data as new information becomes available,” mayor Cr McKinna added.
In the course of debate, Cr Craig Doyle voiced his opinion that he didn’t think it was a decision for local government.
“Australia has one shoreline, the state only has one too, it’s nonsense that this isn’t a federal issue.
“There should be one Australian policy that translates over federal, state and local government.
“Different councils are adopting different levels.” He said it was a decision best left to the experts.
“There’s a lot more people out that are smarter in this issue than I am, so leaving it to well meaning, best intentioned councillors is crazy,” said Cr Doyle.
Cr Vicki Scott expressed a similar view during the debate. “I’m not a scientist, I’m not an engineer; I don’t understand how we can put away the report and say we know better. “Why would we go any other way than with the experts?”
11 Mar 2015
Gosford Council media
11 Mar 2015