Greens inspect coast at risk from climate change

NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon and Bega Valley Shire Council candidates, Keith Hughes, Rosemary Beaumont and Emma O’Haire visited Fishpen on Monday to inspect areas threatened by rising sea levels.

Ms Rhiannon said that local governments in coastal areas must be prepared for sea level rises and some legal precedents requiring them to do this have already been set in other Australian states.

The Greens want to see Councils take rising sea levels into account in planning decisions.

“Global sea levels are already rising as a consequence of melting polar ice, increased ice melt in the west Antarctic shelf and Greenland and thermal expansion of the oceans,” she said.

“We are not just facing sea level rises; we must also expect major storm surges,” she said.

Ms O’Haire, who lives in Merimbula said that the Fishpen area of Merimbula is one of the most vulnerable locations in our region and highlights the urgency of Federal and State Governments adopting strategies to help vulnerable coastal areas prepare for rising sea levels.

“Projected ocean rises over the next century could see the peninsula submerged,” she said.

Dr Beaumont said that sea level rises in many parts of NSW will lead to property damage, loss of foreshore ecosystems, loss of foreshore recreation areas and property becoming un-insurable.

“Some inundation of low lying areas and more severe flooding of coastal properties are inevitable; it is already happening in the Pacific and it is just a matter of time before it happens here,” she said.

Mr Hughes said that even under the most optimistic climate change scenarios, we know that this is going to occur, yet there is no serious Government planning for it.

“Governments around Australia have been extremely slow to address the implications of coastal vulnerability caused by climate change, including who is going to pick up the bill,” he said.

1 September 2008