PBCA; planning for the Climate Crisis.
Many claims and counter claims are swirling around Noosa over how we step through the legal and planning minefield of protecting our coast from the increasing risks of the Climate Crisis.
This is a PBCA analysis of some of these issues.
This Peregian Beach scene from a few years ago is projected to become a far more common sight.
Developments proposed in an erosion prone or natural hazard area
When Noosa Council assesses a development application for a material change of use, reconfiguration of a lot or operational works on premises in an area which is bushfire prone, flood hazard, landslide hazard, storm tide inundation or erosion prone, it is required to use assessment benchmarks set-out in the State Planning Policy.
In an erosion prone area within a coastal management district, development will not be approved unless it cannot feasibly be located elsewhere and is coastal-dependent development; or temporary, readily relocatable or able to be abandoned development; or essential community infrastructure; or minor redevelopment of an existing permanent building or structure that cannot be relocated or abandoned.
In bushfire, flood, landslide, storm tide inundation and erosion areas outside the coastal management district, development is required to avoid natural hazard areas, or where it is not possible to avoid the natural hazard area, development is required to mitigate the risks to people and property to an acceptable or tolerable level.
In all natural hazard areas, development is required to support and not hinder disaster management response or recovery capacity and capabilities; directly, indirectly and cumulatively avoid an increase in the severity of the natural hazard and the potential for damage on the site or to other properties.
The natural processes and the protective function of landforms and the vegetation that can mitigate risks associated with the natural hazard are to be maintained or enhanced.
What does all that mean to an existing property owner in a coastal erosion prone or natural hazard area?
If your property is in these areas, your existing use is unaffected but if you seek a material change of use or a reconfiguration of the land or operational works on the premises, e.g. want to extend your building towards or especially into the coastal management district then Council, as the Development Assessment body, will refer the application to the Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (SARA). SARA will assess it against the State Planning Policy (SPP).
This process was recently illustrated in a Council decision on an application for reconfiguration of 33 Ross Crescent, Sunshine Beach on 28 May 2021.
This application was required to be referred to the chief executive (Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (SARA) for assessment given the site is mapped as an Erosion Prone Area and Coastal Management District.
SARA assessed the proposal and determined that the subdivision did not meet the assessment benchmarks outlined in the SPP and directed Council to refuse the application on several grounds.
In accordance with section 62 of the Planning Act 2016, Council must and did comply with the referral agency’s response and refused the application.
A Peregian Beach Community Association analysis. June 2021.
OUR PBCA MEDIA RELEASE:
Ratepayers can not “carry the can” for climate change decisions by Councils
The Peregian Beach Community Association says the coastal property risk of the climate crisis is a Queensland, Australian and international issue that must NOT be borne unfairly by residents and ratepayers of local Councils like Noosa.
PBCA spokesperson, Barry Cotterell, said an analysis of the legal framework for development applications in risky or sensitive areas shows that the State Planning policy is paramount, and Councils have a clear responsibility to refer these applications to the State Government.
Mr Cotterell said this does not affect existing buildings, but if – for instance – owners want to extend buildings into a coastal erosion prone or natural hazard area the application is subject to a State review process.
Dozens of Queensland Councils are currently carrying out a review of how they should adapt to coastal hazards, including sea level rise, in the decades ahead.
He said “When we build larger and larger houses, squeezed onto blocks on steep frontal dunes, there must be some point where we literally draw a line in the sand for the sake of our entire community, our beaches and our tourism industry that relies on this fragile coastline being kept intact.”
The current, and long standing, Queensland process was recently illustrated over an application to reconfigure a block in Ross Crescent, Sunshine Beach.
Mr Cotterell said “This application was required to be referred by Council to the chief executive of SARA - the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning for assessment given the site is mapped as an Erosion Prone Area and Coastal Management District.
The Department determined that the subdivision did not meet the assessment benchmarks and directed Noosa Council to refuse it. In accordance with section 62 of the Planning Act 2016, Council must comply with the referral agency’s response and refused the application.
"PBCA urges Council to continue to inform the community about coastal climate risks and limit any further incursions in the coastal erosion prone areas” he said.
"For decades our association has advocated working with nature, not against it, and it has never been more important to protect the native vegetation that make our dunes more resilient to the threats of more intense storms and rising sea levels” he said.
“If property owners or developers appeal Council’s decisions to refuse these applications, the State Government must indemnify the Council”, he said.