The Mirror News

A new approach to coastal planning

STATE Planning Minister Matthew Guy promised he would be taking a “commonsense” approach to coastal planning policy, as he released the Coastal Climate Change Advisory Committee Report and his responses to its recommendations.

“The release of this report and my response to it will clear up much of the uncertainty associated with coastal planning across regional Victoria and reinstitute coastal planning policy that is based on common sense,” said Mr Guy, who in his response indicates full support for only six of the 32 recommendations. He dismisses eight of the recommendations and the other eighteen he supports only “in principle” or “in part”.

He does not support, for instance, the insertion of a new objective in the Planning and Environment Act 1987 “to identify and plan for the potential impacts of climate change in order to minimise risks to human health and safety and to ecological communities.” He also rejects amending the public land zones and the Urban Flooding Zone to include reference to climate change, or introducing a new Coastal Conservation Zone or a new Coastal Hazard overlay to the Victorian Planning Provisions.

Mr Guy said clearer policy was required to enable appropriate development to continue with certainty despite the risk of possible sea level rise and storm events.

“To support effective adaptation at local and regional levels, the State Government has an important role to play in providing information about risks, as well as providing an effective planning system that supports responsible and sensible decision-making,” he said.

He said the government would deliver greater coastal planning certainty by:

  • Revising the State Planning Policy Framework to recognise incremental possible sea level rises to the year 2040. As such, floor levels will be increased by an additional 0.2 metres over current one-in-100-year flood levels for new developments in existing settlements.
  • Maintaining the existing long term commitment to plan for not less than 0.8 metre sea level rise by 2100 in new greenfield developments outside existing town boundaries.
  • Issuing detailed guidelines to Catchment Management Authorities to assist them to provide clear and consistent advice to councils assessing land use and development.
  • Releasing statewide inundation dataset and guidance material which will provide information to help state agencies, local governments, land managers, individuals and businesses undertake adaptation planning.

“I am pleased to release the Coastal Climate Change Advisory Committee Report and my response to it, to provide opportunities for councils and communities to familiarise themselves with its recommendations prior to state planning policy changes later this month,” Mr Guy said.

The report and the Minister’s response are available at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning.

South Gippsland Shire Council Manager Strategy Planning and Development Paul Stampton said that it was too early to comment. “We’re yet to see how this will assist people developing low-lying blocks in South Gippsland,” he cautioned.

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