State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has welcomed last week’s announcement by Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, to change the framework for managing the risks associated with flooding and potential sea-level rise.
For the major towns around the Gippsland Lakes, previous decisions were based on the declared flood level, plus differing provisions for sea-level rise ranging from 20cm in Lakes Entrance (which had interim guidelines) to 80cm for other areas.
The changes announced by the Minister mean consistent rules will now apply for decisions in these towns and across the state - that does not require possible sea-level rise to be added.
In Lakes Entrance this means planning decisions will now be based on the declared flood level only, which is 20cm lower than the existing rules. In Metung and Paynesville decision levels will be 80cm lower.
“This is a major change to the way we make decisions and means more proposals; including intensification such as multiple units within towns can now proceed where the minimum benchmarks consistent with national standards are met.
“Minimum benchmarks based on national standards remain; and while it means not all development can go ahead, it is a far more workable situation.
“With this lowering of the benchmark heights, further issues such as low road levels for evacuation can be looked at in a strategic planning way. My understanding is that in some cases, slightly higher road levels in some areas will improve the situation in relation to access requirements.
“To aid this adaptation planning process, the Government is releasing revised data, maps and guides that give our communities a better picture of how the risks of possible sea-level rise may affect the coastline to inform local councils’ strategic planning.
“The importance of strategic planning at a local level is critical to planning for flooding and potential sea-level rise.
“I understand that our council is ready to get stuck into the strategic planning now that we have provided a new policy position and I feel our position now gives council the ability to proceed with confidence.
“From a State Government perspective we have done as much as we can by removing potential sea-level rise from the approvals process,” Mr Bull said.