Warrnambool City Council 16 February 2009 Agenda for Ordinary Meeting Page 149 5.19 SEA LEVEL RISE IMPLICATIONS PURPOSE The purpose of this report is to outline the State Government’s position to Council in regards to predicted sea level rise and what impact this has on planning policy. The impact is pertinent in regards to the South Warrnambool Flood Study and how it will be implemented. 1. BACKGROUND The State Government has recently issued the Victorian Coastal Strategy 2008. Climate change and sea level rise has been identified as part of the coastal strategy. The strategy identified that sea levels had risen by approximately 17 centimetres over the last century. Modelling by the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change has predicted that sea levels are to rise between 0.18 to 0.59 metres plus an additional 0.1-0.2 metres of ice sheet melting by 2099. The overall impact being that the sea level could rise by 0.8 metres over the next century. 2. ISSUE The issue is how local planning policy should reflect the predicted sea level rise. The State Government has given precautionary advice that planning policies should consider sea level rise of not less than 0.8 metres by 2100 when they are adopted. This however is precautionary advice and not legally binding. The Coastal Strategy report advised that a mandatory level will not be set yet until further scientific data becomes available or until a national benchmark is set. The advice however does affect the implications of the South Warrnambool Flood Study being conducted by the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (GHCMA). A sea level rise of 0.8 metres would affect properties down river of Harris Street (Woollen Mill site) that are in the flood study. The GHCMA have been directly advised State Government that there would be no benchmark level of sea-level rise that they could be able include into the South Warrnambool Flood Study. However as there is ‘precautionary advice’ the GHCMA will have to consider it accordingly and implement the study with this data in mind. The outcome from this is that flood levels for properties down river of Harris Street may change. But overall it means there will be further delay in the outcome of this study. 3. CONSULTATION The Victorian Coastal Strategy 2008 has been published by the State Government and sent to all Council’s around Victoria. The sea-level rises cited in this strategy have been raised in various scientific and academic forums/conferences around the state. In addition it has received some attention in the national and local press from time to time. While the Victorian Coastal Strategy 2008 is a public document it is not widely circulated and is generally sent to professionals working in local and state government bodies. The South Warrnambool Flood Study has been advertised to local residents directly affected. This consultation was undertaken on behalf of the GHCMA and has been done prior to any formal endorsement of the study. Further consultation will be undertaken once flood levels are declared under the Water Act and implemented into the Warrnambool Planning Scheme. Warrnambool City Council 16 February 2009 Agenda for Ordinary Meeting Page 150 5.19 Sea Level Rise Implications (Cont.) 4. FINANCIAL IMPACT Not applicable. 5. ENVIRONMENTAL/RISK IMPACT The impact posed by sea level rise would directly affect low-lying properties of South Warrnambool. Should the sea level rise as per predictions this would impact the frequency of flooding in the area and exasperate flooding from the Merri River. As such it is important to better understand these flooding impacts in order to protect the residents of South Warrnambool. The South Warrnambool Flood Study seeks to achieve this and has been delayed due to the predictions of 0.8 metre sea level rise. While delays may be frustrating in terms of policy direction, there are benefits in getting it right to ensure the safety of South Warrnambool residents. This will ensure that future development is undertaken in a safe and appropriate manner based on the best available data. RECOMMENDATION That this report be received.