‘Planned retreat’ not understood, says residents’ group

Most people do not understand the implications of a “planned retreat” response to climate change, according to St Huberts Island Residents Association.
Association president Mr Rod Blake said the group was still concerned with Central Coast Council’s recently adopted Climate Change Policy, despite the removal of clauses relating to planned retreat and sea level rise planning.
He said the group was not convinced that the relevant clauses were “completely off the table” and that they would not re-emerge as action plans are formulated under the policy.
“Planned retreat could mean they could basically take your property with no recompense- or walk away from your infrastructure concerns,” Mr Blake said.
“The mayor says she is happy with how the draft Climate Change Policy was advertised but there were only about 500 people at the workshops and around 600 emails received.
“We believe that greater effort should have been made to reach out to us and are worried that people don’t really understand the implications of planned retreat.
“Our Council is trying to be a leader on Climate Change, but we expect it to look after residents first – and help us adapt to Climate Change as it occurs, particularly with regard to sea level rise.
“The majority of residents do not read through multitudes of pages and do not expect their councillors to try and adopt extreme measures without allowing a significant interaction with those most affected.”
Mayor Cr Jane Smith said the policy had been adopted following a “thorough consultation process” which resulted in changes being made to the original draft.
A report to Council said sea level rise planning levels and planned retreat were the two commitment statements least supported by respondents.
“Participants believe council needs to proactively prepare and focus on positive adaptation actions like protect, redesign, rebuild and elevate to avoid the need to consider options such as relocate and retreat,” the report from Micromex Research said.
In response, references to planned retreat and RCP 8.5 (setting a strict pathway allowing for sea level rise) were removed and the focus on ongoing adaptation planning with the community was strengthened along with disaster management and coastal hazards planning.
The second statement to receive lukewarm support from respondents was that Council align its corporate greenhouse gas emissions reduction target with the Australian Government’s Paris commitment to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below the 2005 levels by 2030 and the NSW Government’s aspirational objective to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The draft report has been amended to remove any reference to the Paris targets due to the likelihood of these targets being updated.
The draft policy commits to a place-based approach to adaptation planning in partnership with the community.
Community Environment Network deputy chair, Mr John Asquith said there had been a desperate need for the policy.
“Each year we see increasing heat waves, more powerful storms and increased flooding,” Mr Asquith said.
“It is clear from the science and international concerns that climate change is real and accelerating.
“While there are strategies available to push back on climate change, there is little evidence that anything meaningful will happen either nationally or internationally to stop or slow climate change.
“Hence, we need our Council to be prepared to take action when all other levels of government fail.”

Central Coast Council agenda 4.5, 8 Jul 2019
Media statement, 8 July 2019
John Asquith, Community Environment Network
Interview (Terry Collins), 9 July 2019
Jane Smith, Central Coast Council
Interview (Terry Collins), 29 July 2019
Rod Blake, St Huberts Island Residents Association

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