Protecting Victoria’s coast

The Environment Defenders Office is representing a small environment group, Friends of the Surry, in an upcoming VCAT hearing on 8 October.  The case is about protecting our coast from bad planning decisions.

The Friends have appealed decisions by Victoria’s Planning Minister to allow new developments along the edge of the coast near the small coastal town of Narrawong, in Victoria’s south-west.

What’s wrong with this decision?

The Minister has decided to approve development on a highly vulnerable part of Victoria’s coast.  Over the next 90 years, this part of the coast may face severe coastal erosion and inundation, caused by sea-level rise and other impacts caused by climate change.  In 2010, the Glenelg Shire Council commissioned a detailed report which considered the possible impacts of erosion and inundation on this part of the coast, including the sites to be developed.  The report suggested that the sites may be partially eroded by 2070, and may have completely fallen into the sea by 2100.

The Minister is aware of this report.  However, his decision was based on an assumption that we only need to plan for 20 years into the future – whatever happens after that is for future generations to deal with.

We will be arguing that the Minister’s decision is wrong – and that the correct decision should be based on planning rules that are in place to protect the coast, and people, from the effects of climate change, coastal erosion and inundation.  Such rules can be found in the Victorian Coastal Strategy, which is a mandatory consideration in coastal matters under all Victorian Planning Schemes.

Why is the EDO helping the Friends?

We think that planning decisions that affect Victoria’s coast should be based on good evidence, and long-term perspectives.  To allow development today that risks falling into the sea in 60 or 90 years time is short-sighted, a waste of resources, and potentially damaging to the coast which should be there for all Victorians to enjoy, now and in the future.  It is our view that for the sake of all Victorians, and the sake of our coast, the Minister’s decision should not go unchallenged.

The case begins on 8 October 2012 at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

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