Queensland Coastal Plan released

A NEW plan that aims to protect vulnerable coastal land from future urban development has been released by the Queensland Government.

The Queensland Coastal Plan, prepared by the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), was released last Thursday by Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones, who was joined by Local Government Association of Queensland General Manager Greg Hoffman.

The plan aims to protect future coastal communities from threats such as storm tide surges and cyclones, protect the coastline from development in high risk areas of coastal erosion and storm tide inundation and safeguard areas of high ecological significance from development.

Ms Jones said that with climate scientists predicting more severe extreme weather events in the future, there was no room for complacency when planning for Queensland's long-term future.

"The Queensland Coastal Plan will allow state and local governments to work together, to utilise climate science, advanced mapping technology and sound policy direction to prevent further community exposure to coastal hazards."

Ms Jones said the new Queensland Coastal Plan will have the power of a State Planning Policy and will enable planners to prepare for future challenges by: 

  • Factoring in a sea level rise of 80 centimetres by 2100;
  • Applying new technology to map coastal hazard areas along the coastline;
  • Banning urban development in non-urban areas mapped as high hazard (areas which are projected to be permanently inundated from sea level rise or temporarily inundated by storm surges to a depth greater than one metre in 2100); 
  • Ensuring public access is improved to the coast and that land is reserved for important economic activities that need to be located on the coast, such as ports and marinas; and
  • Requiring an adaptation plan from councils before any existing urban development is intensified in high hazard areas.

Ms Jones said the finalisation of the Coastal Plan also fulfils a commitment made at last year's Queensland Growth Summit.

The plan contains statutory requirements for new development and greater certainty for local government, developers and the community about how to deal with coastal hazards and protect coastal ecological values.

Mr Hoffman said the plan would support and allow councils to address the issues arising from the projected increase in the extent and severity of coastal hazards in a consistent and transparent manner.

However, following the release of the plan, the Property Council of Australia expressed 'great concern' at the plan.

Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia Kathy Mac Dermott said the Plan introduces major uncertainty and raises a raft of questions.

"The coastal plan raises serious issues around property values, future land use and development rights - along with existing and future state and local government infrastructure," Ms Mac Dermott said, adding that the Plan "erodes investor confidence and diminishes Queensland's competitiveness."

According to the Queensland Government's coastal hazard area maps, Ms Mac Dermott said that "approximately 100,000 properties in Queensland are located within the areas identified as 'high hazard', with an additional 60,000 properties located in 'medium hazard' areas."

"The Queensland Government has sent a strong message that settlement in high hazard zones should be 'avoided'," Ms Mac Dermott said.

The Queensland Coastal Plan is available from the Department of Environment and Resource Management website at <http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/>.

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