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After dry spell, Gold Coast back on front foot with climate projects plan

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Long criticised for its lack of a climate change strategy despite rising risks of riverine flooding and coastal inundation, the Gold Coast will identify a raft of projects to future-proof the city.

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A State Government and City of Gold Coast climate adaptation partnership aims to plan and develop new technology for monitoring changes, building new infrastructure and altering environmental management practices.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the city relied on its renowned features like the Gold Coast Seaway, the Sand Bypass System and Wave Break Island to ensure ongoing and safe access to waterways for recreational boaties and commercial operators.

“They also protect public open spaces including Doug Jennings Park at The Spit and foreshores along the Broadwater from hazards like storm surges and erosion,” Bailey said.

“This project will consider how these assets are holding up against climate change impacts and what future infrastructure is needed to respond to the changing environment.”

He said the project aimed to manage coastal hazards including rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

“With a natural capital value of $26 billion and over 6,000 direct and indirect jobs relying on our waterways you can see why they need to be at the heart of our strategy to respond and adapt to climate change,” he said.

The City of Gold Coast had been criticised by environmental groups after the city’s climate change strategy expired in 2014 and hadn’t been revised since.

While the Gold Coast Seaway and Sand Bypass System were developed and constructed back in the 1980s in direct response to the need for more robust coastal protection systems, the city’s response to climate change has been considered out of date and focused primarily on flooding.

In the past year, however, the city has considerably upped its game on green initiatives, despite no formal council policy specifically to address social, environmental and economic impacts of climate change.

Gold Coast Waterways Chair Mara Bun said the Gold Coast had a strong track record developing innovative responses to environmental challenges.

“The science tells us that doing nothing is not an option,” Bun said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the solutions that the project team comes up to ensure locals and visitors continue to enjoy everything the Gold Coast has to offer now, and into the future.”

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