Shoalhaven is planning for rising sea levels without tempers rising too, a neighbouring councillor says.
Shoalhaven deputy mayor John Wells said he had fielded an “extraordinary” number of phone calls from the Eurobodalla in the past week, since his council resolved its sea-level policy.
On Tuesday last week, Shoalhaven councillors adopted, by a margin of nine votes to two, a planning policy based on sea levels rising by 230mm by 2050.
They also agreed to review that
figure every seven years, based on tidal gauge data.
The adopted figure was 30mm below that recommended by the consultants both shires had jointly engaged.
Mr Wells said the decision had
barely made a ripple, let alone
a splash, north of the Eurobodalla’s border.
“The issue has polarised people in your electorate, but I don’t think it has polarised people in the Shoalhaven so much,” he told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner yesterday.
Mr Wells, a councillor since 2012, said he did not recall sea-level rise investigation areas being imposed in his shire, as they were in the Eurobodalla.
He said his phone had run hot with calls from southern neighbours in the past week.
“The number of phone calls I have taken from the Eurobodalla is quite extraordinary,” he said.
“I have probably had eight or 10 calls in the past week.
“We have had email representation by ratepayers and I have had calls from council stakeholders, but not staff.
“I am not going to disclose who.”
Mr Wells said the decision was one “our council can live with” and he did not predict any electoral backlash.
He said no council could ignore rising sea-level predictions.
“They would do so at their peril,” he said.
“That would be a head-in-the-sand approach.
“We have acted responsibly and defensibly.
“Councillors from across the political spectrum supported the proposal.”
He said a Green councillor and one other opposed it, in favour of a higher prediction.
“However, the higher level you adopt, the more properties become impacted and the higher potential (there is), upon sale of their property, to have their certificate notated ‘subject to tidal inundation’, which would eventually have an impact on both insurability and valuation,” Mr Wells said.
He said the seven-year revision clause was crucial.
He said councillors had four scenarios to choose from, based on “atmospheric greenhouse gas contamination levels”.
“The contamination level the consultant recommended was 8.5, which was an extraordinary level of contamination,” he said.
“The lowest level of contamination was 2.6, which the Earth has already exceeded, according to the consultant.
“If we stopped using greenhouse gases today, that would take us to the next contamination level of four.
“We adopted the contamination level of six.
“Between now and 2100, we will review the actual sea-level rise retrospectively every seven years.
“That is a very practical and pragmatic approach to monitoring sea-level rise, rather than the imprecise science around the subject of climate change.
“The consultants’ report was quite clear in saying that the science is imprecise and the further out you go, the less precise it becomes.
“However sea levels are something you can measure.
“Fort Denison is a reasonable tide datum to measure back to.
“It has the longest continuous record of tidal datum in Australia and is fairly representative of tidal conditions on the South Coast.”