Noosa declares climate emergency, considers warning homebuyers of future flood risks

| 22.07,19. 06:13 PM |



Noosa declares climate emergency, considers warning homebuyers of future flood risks



Photo: Floodwater pushes boats over a park at Gympie Terrace in Noosa in 2012. (ABC News: Rebekah van Druten)

If your home is at risk of being flooded in 80 years' time because of climate change — would you want to know? And would you be happy if others

?knew the possible dangers when you tried to sell it


The threat of climate change to Australia's coastal areas is on the mind of some, with news the luxury seaside shire of Noosa in south-east Queensland is formally declaring a "climate emergency".


Around the world, about 740 governments have done the same, including many in Australia along with world cities such as Paris and New York.


But that is not all.


The Noosa Shire is also working out which parts of its coastline are at risk from climate change, and which plots of highly valuable land could be at risk of flooding in the future.


Tens of thousands of homes could be at risk … so what now?


The latest figures from the Department of Environment warn a sea level rise of 1.1 metres, considered a high-end scenario, would cost $226 billion nationally by the end of the century.


If that eventuates, it would put up to 68,000 homes at risk in Queensland and the same number in New South Wales.


In Victoria and South Australia, it would be up to 48,000 homes, up to 30,000 in Western Australia and up to 15,000 in Tasmania.


Every coastal community in Australia is doing its own mapping, but Noosa may take it a step further.


The Noosa Shire is now considering how best to warn owners, both current and future, about the risk.


Councillors say the estimated 2,232 Noosa properties likely to be affected by storm flooding in 80 years' time could be told directly via rates notices.


Possible buyers may also be alerted through routine property or rates searches.


Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said it was "a problem that every coastal council is facing around the world now — and it's an issue of defend or retreat obviously".


"What we have to look at is whether it is feasible and possible to defend property, in a worst-case scenario, or whether it is not possible, and what the cost implications are," he said.


"And then you have to ask whether all residents should be funding for protection of a few properties.


"It's a very complicated issue."


The Mayor also said it was a matter of "buyer beware" and those in low-lying areas ought to know the risks.


In 2015, a report to Byron Bay Council warned that certain homes may become "voluntary house purchases" where the council buys homes at risk of flooding "to reduce risk to life and limb".


What happens to my home's value if it's at risk of climate change?


Antonia Mercorella from the Real Estate Industry of Queensland said a climate change warning could scare off some buyers "at a psychological level".


But she said that effect could be short-lived, or even ignored by those particularly keen on living near the coast.


"The reality is, many of us choose to live along the coast because it's a lifestyle decision," Ms Mercorella said.


"Only time will tell if climate change and coastal issues such as tide, inundation and erosion will start to have a detrimental impact on property value — certainly the data is not telling us that right now.


"But decades into the future, we might start to say that has an impact."


The Insurance Council of Australia said climate declarations and long-term fears of flooding would not affect premiums, but actual storm or water damage could.


"If you're already at risk and climate change predicts that you will become further exposed, then your premiums over the next 30–80 years will go up to reflect changes in that risk," the council's Campbell Fuller said.


The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) represents all local governments in Queensland, and is working with the State to ensure homeowners know if their properties are at risk.


LGAQ boss Greg Hallam said it is not about spreading fear.


"We don't to be alarmist," he said.


"We don't want to unduly scare people and we don't want people thinking it's going to happen tomorrow.


"But as long-term planners and custodians of the land, we're duty-bound to tell people the truth."


abc


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