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New Draft Plan to Guide Coastal Development in Far North Qld

[Queensland Government Media Release]

A new draft planning instrument for Queensland's coastline will have particular relevance for new coastal development in Far North Queensland when finalised, Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said today.

Releasing the Draft Queensland Coastal Plan in Cairns, Ms Jones said the document would be available for public comment this Friday (28 August [2009]).

"Far North Queensland residents can help shape the future management and protection of the coastline by providing comments on the draft plan," she said.

"The new draft plan factors in a predicted sea level rise of 80 centimetres by 2100.

"Early this year cyclonic weather and king tides caused extensive flooding and damage to coastal properties throughout Far North Queensland.

"Houses and businesses were flooded, high tides washed away beach structures and up to one metre of foreshore along the Cairns esplanade, and road closures caused traffic chaos," Ms Jones said.

"More than 80 per cent of Queenslanders live on the coast and these events have demonstrated the kinds of impacts that sea level rises and climate change related weather events could have on Queensland's coastline.

"With this in mind, careful and responsible management of our coastline and coastal areas is now more pertinent than ever.

"You need robust planning regimes to keep coastal and maritime development in check and map out sensible urban settlement along our coastline."

Ms Jones said the draft plan, prepared after a review of the existing plan, was compiled in two parts.

"The first part includes policies to address public access and natural resource management on the coast," she said.

"For example, policy direction and guidance is provided to local governments and community groups to carry out on-the-ground management activities such as the maintenance of pedestrian and four-wheel-drive access to coastal foreshores.

"The second part will be a State Planning Policy under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 to provide better integration with Queensland’s planning laws and the Government’s planning reform agenda.

"It focuses on four major policy issues for conserving coastal resources - urban settlement patterns, maritime development, protecting areas of high ecological significance and managing development in areas potentially at risk from coastal hazards."

Ms Jones said the draft plan contained mechanisms to protect Queenslanders from coastal hazards such as coastal erosion, storm tide inundation and permanent inundation due to sea level rise.

"Coastal hazards such as erosion and flooding have caused significant ecological and economical damage to local beaches in Cairns over the past decade.

"The new Draft Management Policy encourages local governments to take a strategic approach to managing coastal areas, especially those subject to erosion, by developing shoreline erosion management plans such as the one developed for Clifton Beach.

"The State Planning Policy component of the new draft plan aims to avoid future erosion and inundation events by ensuring new development occurs outside of hazardous areas.

"The draft State Planning Policy aims to direct the placement of future urban settlements in the coastal zone while still allowing for maritime development, enhancing recreational opportunities and protecting ecological values," she said.

"We need to ensure that development – particularly urban and residential development – does not result in unacceptable risks to people or property from coastal erosion, sea level rises or storm tides which may result from climate change.

"For example, the draft plan incorporates a projected sea level rise figure of 30 centimetres in 2050, increasing to 80 centimetres by 2100.

"The predicted 80-centimetre sea level rise by 2100 will inform many decisions about the allocation of new areas for urban development and planning by councils for coastal erosion and storm tide inundation.

"This is based on advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the latest data on actual emissions, global temperatures and sea level rise trends."

The Draft Queensland Coastal Plan can be found on the Department of Environment and Resource Management website – www.derm.qld.gov.au/coastal_plan – and supporting information, including new detailed mapping, will be available from August 28 [2009].

Public comment will close on October 31 [2009]. A new Queensland Coastal Plan with supporting legislative changes is expected to be implemented early next year.

Source: Queensland Government <http://www.qld.gov.au/>.

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