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Wow? On sea-levels NSW councils told to take “scientific” approach, not IPCC predictions

This is a big deal. Here’s a state government telling people to be more scientific, and not blindly follow the IPCC. This is a win we need to translate to other areas.

The former Labor government in NSW had told councils they had to plan for sea-level rise  “according to the IPCC”, but that made sea-side properties unsalable, and was pretty painfully stupid compared to what the tide gauges were actually saying (like in Sydney where the rise is a tiny 6cm a century). The new strategy says councils need to be scientific and look at the conditions on each beach separately.

In this issue, the costs of following the IPCC plan were borne by those living on the coast (and property developers), and that pain motivated them to press the State government to get the IPCC out of the way. This is a reminder that it is worth protesting and sane things do happen.

If we can get citizens of the free west to appreciate the true cost of the IPCC, it would surely be gone by 2020. Now there’s a target..

Rob Stokes announces shake-up of council coastal management

In an interview with The Australian, Mr Stokes said he would be announcing “a much more scientific and evidence-based ­approach … it reflects recognition that what is happening on the coast is a product of what is happening to the sand off the coast,” he said.

“We will be integrating coastal management and planning with what is happening in the adjacent seabed.

The initiatives mark the second phase of the Coalition government’s demolition of the previous Labor government’s policy, which among other things directed local councils on the coast to enforce the climate change and sea level rise predictions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Under that regime, councils in some cases included sea-level rise warnings on the planning certificates of some seaside properties based not on what was happening on the beaches concerned — including one that is acquiring sand naturally and pushing back the sea — but on IPCC predictions.

Many owners found that under this policy, their properties became almost unsaleable.

The Taree Council might be the smartest one of all — it plans to let the landowners figure it out themselves. They need to work out the risks, and how much action they should take. That will sort out the skeptics from the gullibles.

Congratulations to researcher Phil Watson, and Bob Carter, and to landholders on NSW coasts. I hear that some especially deserve credit: “Strong thanks are due to Batemans Bay residents Neville Hughes, Pat Aiken and other coastal NSW resident groups for their unwearying opposition to, and protests against, the former policy.”

More information

P. J. Watson (2011) Is There Evidence Yet of Acceleration in Mean Sea Level Rise around Mainland Australia?. Journal of Coastal Research: Volume 27, Issue 2: pp. 368 – 377.  doi: 10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00141.1 [Link Abstract PDF ]


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