Study finds Government resists risk-based planning
A study by a Woy Woy PhD candidate has found that NSW has resisted adopting risk-based land-use planning which is responsive and adapting to natural hazard events including climate risks such as coastal erosion.
"The New South Wales planning legislation continues to provide planning mechanisms that allow development in high-risk beach locations and there is no policy to move people away from high-risk zones," Woy Woy town planning student Mr Mark Ellis writes in an article published in the Australian Journal of Disaster Management.
Mr Ellis said case studies of Central Coast Council and of Byron Shire Council showed that even where a council was taking a risk-based approach it was frustrated by State Government Policy.
The case studies "highlighted the differences in adaptation strategies to reduce the risk of erosion".
"In the Central Coast case study, a self-reinforcing feedback and path-dependency approach based on current legislation was adopted," said Mr Ellis.
"The council is not reducing the risks from rising sea levels and storm surges, by allowing development in high-risk coastal locations.
"The Byron Bay case study found that the council wanted to act on coastal hazards, looked beyond the current legislative path and has opted for a managed-retreat approach.
"However, the council is restricted because of the NSW Government intransigence [in requiring] that the strategy aligns with existing government planning policy.
"This study did not identify any political will nor appetite for changing public policy to incorporate managed retreat as an adaptation action to reduce risk," he said.
Mr Ellis said that, with increasing climate risk and coastal erosion, landholders and planners must stop relying on engineering options like sea walls and beach renourishment "to prop up properties that are no longer sustainable in a climate-affected future".
He suggested the alternative of a national coastal reserve "that adopts nature-based solutions as a coastal defence and is legislated by state governments and implemented by local governments" as a possible way of reducing the ongoing risks of coastal erosion and sea-level rise.
Media release, 1 Nov 2023
Mark Ellis, Woy Woy