Coastal climate change (CCC) risks relate to inundation of
settlements, with household damage, disruption to service delivery,
loss of natural ecosystems, reduced asset life from accelerated
erosion and degradation of coastal land, loss of public and private
land and greater expenditure on asset repair and maintenance.
Awareness of CCC risks is a work in progress. There is
considerable debate in the community as to the likelihood of the
risks eventuating, the degree of affectation if the risks eventuate
and whether climate change is a result of human activity or whether
it is due to cyclical patterns.
State and local governments currently responsible for climate
Under our government structure, it is up to the states and local
government to deal with CCC risks. This has resulted in a lack of
uniform policy. A number of legal challenges on planning appeals
show that there is a lack of consistency in standards and decision
making. Planning for emergency management requires national rather
than local responses.
The 89-page report was released in April. It covers the
existing CCC policies
how CCC policies are given legal effect
who is responsible for making and implementing CCC
what risk protection standards are being used
how CCC risks to existing settlements are being managed
national approach to CCC risks
Analysis of climate change policies and practices of states and
Within the report is a detailed examination of the policies and
practices of the states and territories for dealing with CCC risks.
The report notes that although all states have planning
legislation, none specifically reference climate change in the
However, New South Wales does have the Coastal Protection Act 1979 which requires coastal
plans for land development proposals to address CCC risks.
Lack of consistency in CCC risk protection standards
The report concludes that there is no national consistency in
risk protection standards or risk disclosure requirements related
to CCC risk management. The lack of well developed policy dealing
with CCC threats to existing settlements, including planning for
emergency response to CCC risks, will create uncertainty as the
increasing impacts of CCC are felt.
Not surprisingly, the report recommends that there should be a
national approach. This approach could include engagement with
state and territory governments on the benefit of a consistent
approach and engagement with the wider community on the options for
managing CCC risks to existing settlements.
Development of policy options on coastal climate change
The report also discusses the development of policy options,
guidance on the scope of issues that a well developed CCC
policy should include
clearer delineation of roles and responsibilities for CCC risk
national standards such as a national approach to setting sea
level rise benchmarks
guidance on the relative weight that CCC risks should be given
in land use planning decisions
Government to respond to report on coastal climate change
We will await a response to the report from government. We
should assume that any planning application for coastal development
will, over time, be increasingly required to address CCC risks.
Hopefully the report will lead to a national policy providing
greater certainty than we have at present. This will assist
planning teams to anticipate and plan for development approval
requirements arising from coastal climate change risk policy.
This legal update is an overview of existing eligible project activities and new project types proposed to be developed.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).