Answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions are provided below. If your question is not listed, please email the Our Cairns Coast project team.
Has there been a project like this completed before?
Yes, a pilot study was conducted by the City of Townsville and the Queensland Government in 2013. More information on that project can be found at the following sites:
- Townsville Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy web page
- Climate Change Adaptation Good Practice Case Study (PDF) report containing outcomes and critical success factors.
This pilot study has resulted in a number of important learnings for the program and for other councils in preparing a CHAS. The Our Cairns Coast project team is aware of these findings and has considered these in the scoping phases of the project.
What are people doing in other parts of Australia and overseas?
There are 31 Queensland coastal councils participating in the QCoast2100 program to prepare a coastal hazard adaptation strategy.
Outside of Queensland and throughout Australia, many councils and regional authorities have developed, or are developing, their own coastal adaptation plans. This extends more broadly around the world with a number of other councils and regions taking action, like City of New York, Miami Dade County (and many other localities within Florida), Auckland Council, City of Boston, the State of Louisiana and Singapore.
What is Council currently doing in response to coastal hazards?
Council already invests heavily in managing and caring for our coastline, working with many agencies and community partners to keep our beaches and coastal environments healthy and protected.
Council also works to reduce and manage the impacts of coastal hazards through:
- disaster management activities and resilience programs like ‘Be Ready, Cairns’;
- drainage management projects like the current Cairns CBD & Environs Drainage Management Plan;
- coastal management activities such as beach replenishment and protective works including the sea walls at Machan’s Beach and Clifton Beach; and
- setting appropriate design standards in the planning scheme for buildings and infrastructure .
This project will go beyond these current initiatives, and will also help inform when and how they should occur. It will assess the suitability of a range of adaptation responses to projected long-term coastal hazard impacts affecting different parts of the Cairns region.
Is climate change really going to affect the Cairns coast?
The Queensland Government, based on projections provided by CSIRO and BoM (2017), has stated in its Far North Queensland Climate Change Impact Summary (PDF) that climate change effects in Far North Queensland will include
- higher temperatures
- hotter and more frequent hot days
- more intense downpours
- less frequent but more intense tropical cyclones
- rising sea level
- more frequent sea level extremes, and
- warmer and more acidic seas.
The Our Cairns Coast project will respond to current and future coastal changes from erosion, storm tide inundation and sea level rise.
What is sea level rise and why is it important?
Sea levels are rising as a result of increasing ocean temperature. The exact rates and extent of these increases are not known and will improve as more data becomes available. Projections depend on the level of carbon emissions around the world.
Our planning scheme, the CairnsPlan 2016, has adopted the Queensland Government’s recommendation from the Coastal hazard technical guide (prepared by the former Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in 2013) for consideration of a 0.8m rise in sea level by 2100. This level will be used for the Our Cairns Coast project.
Further information and resources about sea level rise
Will this study affect development in coastal areas?
It is acknowledged that some new development in identified coastal hazard areas can provide benefits and value to the community, depending on the type of land use proposed and the way that it is designed.
This project will help to identify the types of land uses that are appropriate to establish within the coastal areas, depending on the level of coastal hazard risk.
Will this study affect my property value or insurance costs?
Cairns Regional Council has no control over how insurance providers calculate insurance prices. There are many factors that an insurance provider may take into account when determining insurance costs, not just the occurrence of extreme events that damage property or development restrictions placed on areas identified as subject to coastal risks.
Insurance is an annual contract informed by a number of factors, including past events and the likelihood of events occurring in the term of the policy period.
Based on similar coastal studies undertaken in Western Australia, Council does not envisage that property insurance will increase based on the findings of the Our Cairns Coast project.
Property valuation is a subjective, rather than an objective, science influenced by a range of factors. The occurrence of extreme events that damage property and development restrictions placed on areas identified as subject to coastal risks are not the only factors that will influence a property’s value. Other influential factors include external elements such as location and amenity, as well as specific details such as supply and demand. Market conditions can alter at any given time.
Whilst climate change may have an effect on property values, a comprehensive study (PDF) conducted in 2008 of the impact of identified coastal hazard zones and development restrictions on properties in Hawke’s Bay (NZ) concluded that wider property market and economic factors have outweighed any stigma that may be apparent with the initial announcement of Coastal Hazard Zones. According to the study, markets have continued to operate consistently in line with general market trends and there does not appear to have been any adverse effects to property value that can be identified as caused by the introduction of Coastal Hazard Zones.
It is important to remember, much of the data that will be captured in this study is not new and is already publicly available to insurers, financiers and investors.
Recognising, addressing and adapting to coastal hazard risks are key to avoiding real damages to property and property values.