Councils seek help in preparing for climate change

Monday, 18 May, 2009

The state government needs to provide more funding and guidance to councils to help them prepare for the impacts of climate change, according to the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW.

In their submission to the NSW government’s draft sea level rise policy, the associations highlighted a number of issues, including the need for clear guidelines on responding to impacts of sea level rise and the importance of ongoing consultation with local government.

Cr Genia McCaffery, President of the Local Government Association, says councils are committed to understanding and addressing the impacts of climate change — in particular, rising sea levels — and are awaiting the release of the guidelines.

“Councils have devoted significant resources to preparing for climate change — from implementing innovative policies, to undertaking community education campaigns, so it’s really important the state government gets this policy right," said McCaffery.

“Lack of funding is a huge obstacle for us at the moment, and we’ve highlighted this in our submission.

“Any funding available to councils must come with clear explanations on exactly how the funding will work, and who is eligible for it."

Cr Bruce Miller, President of the Shires Association, says while he agreed with many points outlined in the draft policy, it lacked important technical guidance on how councils can best estimate the impacts of rising sea levels.

“We’re pleased the state government has taken a coordinated approach to addressing sea level rise and has given us a chance to comment on what we think works and what doesn’t,” said Miller.

”One thing we felt was missing was a set of clear guidelines on how councils can estimate and plan for the effects of rising sea levels and associated natural hazards, such as severe storms and coastal recession.

“The guidelines need to help councils implement viable solutions and must be developed in close consultation with local government to ensure the best possible outcomes for both local communities and the environment.

“The guidelines will also need to explain liability issues such as the exemptions in section 733 of the Local Government Act — at this stage, it’s not entirely clear what is covered by this section," said Miller.

“The state government has made a great start in developing a sea level rise policy that provides guidance for the short, medium and long term, and by making the amendments outlined in our submission, can bring NSW councils and communities one step closer to informed planning and preparation for sea level rise,” added McCaffery.

To view the LGSA submission, visit www.lgsa.org.au.

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