Local Adaptation Pathway Program
Preparing for climate change – a regional approach by Kempsey, Nambucca and Bellingen Shires

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Background

Kempsey, Nambucca and Bellingen Shire Councils collaborated to plan for climate change. The project was motivated by the recognised potential impacts of a changing climate upon the regions economy, community and environment.

In February 2009 the Council consortium submitted a joint application to the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change (DCC) for funding under the Local Adaptation Pathway Program (LAPP) to undertake risk management assessment and develop an Adaptation Action Plan for the Region. In June 2009 the Council consortium were notified that they were successful in attracting $140,000 for this project.

A Draft Climate Change Risk Assessment and Draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy were exhibited for comment in September 2010. The Reports were finalised in December 2010.

Objectives

The main objective of the program was to increase the adaptive capacity of local governments to deal with the impacts of climate change and to;

  • Identify and prioritise risks that climate change impacts pose to the operations and responsibilities of local governments;
  • Develop strategies for managing risks, adaptive actions, and building resilience within communities; and
  • Identify where knowledge gaps may be and where further investigation is needed.

Scope of Project

The project scope addresses all relevant impacts of climate change including, but not limited to:

  • Extreme climatic events;
  • Sea Level Rise;
  • Rainfall Patterns;
  • Flooding; and
  • Temperature Patterns.

The strategy was intended to be broad ranging and encompass all issues associated with climate change. However, given existing issues facing our region, emphasised by recent flood events, particular attention was placed on the following:

  • The impacts on low lying coastal settlements and estuarine environments from predicted sea level rises;
  • The impacts of more frequent, high intensity rainfall over coastal areas and surrounding catchments producing the potential for severe runoff, erosion, landslides and flooding events;
  • The potential damage to infrastructure caused by both the depth and velocity of flood waters; and
  • The effects of strong winds directly damaging infrastructure and also generating waves and storm surges contributing to foreshore erosion and coastal flooding.

In the context of predicted climate change impacts, the strategy has identified and evaluated the risks associated with:

  • New urban release areas;
  • Existing development areas in flood effected areas and identifying potential areas that may require further more detailed investigation;
  • Infrastructure including sewerage systems, bridges, roads, water supplies, etc;
  • Water quality issues and availability of accessible water supplies and storage systems;
  • The natural environment, including sensitive marine, estuarine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems as well as biodiversity;
  • Farming issues including agriculture and aquaculture industries;
  • Bushfire;
  • Ageing Population; and
  • Increased liability relating to decision making in particular pertaining to Development Applications and the location of Council’s Assets;

It is expected that the strategy will benefit Council by achieving the following:

  • Identifying the potential risks/vulnerabilities within the region and the individual local Government Areas.
  • Identifying possible actions that can be undertaken by resource sharing across the Shires;
  • Utilising existing stakeholder groups to undertake identified actions including state government departments and agencies, community groups and individuals, Council management committees, Council staff and business and industry representatives;
  • Forming new stakeholder groups across and within each shire to examine actions to be undertaken;
  • Provide an opportunity for the community to take an active role in identifying potential risks and to gain insight into risks associated with climate change.
  • Provide a comprehensive priority list of adaptive actions for each LGA;
  • Identification of gaps in information or policy base within each LGA;
  • Identify opportunities for funding and affiliations which may assist in meeting the adaptive response that are proposed.
  • Provide guidance so that informed decisions can be made when forming policy relating to placement of infrastructure and housing development.