Coast to be inundated

It’s now official – the Gippsland coast faces the double whammy of sea level rise and coastal subsidence.
In July, the Gippsland Coastal Board released a report detailing these problems, saying the coast is highly erodible, making it very vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges. This could damage estuaries, rivers, bays and inlets, erode dunes and cause fresh water ecosystems to collapse. The other problem is the decades of oil and gas extraction causing subsidence of inland areas and underground aquifers being impacted.

Not only will the coastal environment be inundated but so will real estate. The Gippsland Coastal Board asked the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to review the Shire’s approval of a subdivision. The VCAT ruling rejected a proposal for a new housing development in South Gippsland because of the threat of storms and rising sea levels. This is the first ruling of its kind with possible implications for developments right around Australia’s coast.

But South Gippsland Council is more worried that the ruling will see property values drop, rather than being worried that chunks of the community will drop – into the ocean.

The Board’s report warned that buildings will be inundated within 50 years and about 85% of the Gippsland coast is at risk. How curious – as it had recently approved the new upgrades and expansion of the Santos industrial gas plant on a mobile sand dune in the Snowy River’s estuary at the edge of the southern ocean! It’s magic how money can help these developments stay float.

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