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Climate change damage bill $40m a year and rising on Sunshine Coast


Climate change may already be causing up to $40 million damage a year to buildings and infrastructure on the Sunshine Coast, a bill that could more than triple in coming years if nothing is done, a landmark council strategy has found.

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Sunshine Coast Council’s strategy on addressing coastal hazards warns that up to six per cent of the region’s privately-owned buildings may be at risk of total inundation by 2100 due to climate change.

The strategy, due to be formally adopted by the council next week, also warns that the risk to sport and recreation clubs and public infrastructure like water utilities is also increasing.

“For the Sunshine Coast, the present day potential average annual damages associated with coastal hazard impact on infrastructure assets is estimated to be up to $40m,” the strategy states.

“In the absence of adaptation, this may increase to $55m by 2041, over $80m by 2070 and over $130m annually by 2100.”

It said the “predicted increase in tidal areas” due to sea level rise was the main driver of the increase in potential damages.

It found that some areas of the Sunshine Coast particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, like the Maroochy estuary and floodplain, may need to introduce land use changes within 20 years to lessen damage from coastal hazards.

This area, which includes the the Maroochy River channel, Bradman Avenue and the Maroochy Waters canal estate, already has revetment walls and groynes in place but the strategy warns that “both developed and undeveloped areas of the estuary and floodplain are likely to be increasingly exposed to tidal and storm tide inundation”.

“Low-lying urban areas may be at risk from long-term inundation hazards,” it says.

It urges action including enabling “long-term raising of lot levels” in flood prone areas.

Sunshine Coast Council is one of more than 40 Queensland local governments that have embarked on a strategy to address coastal hazards and other impacts of climate change.

The plans have attracted criticism in some council areas from residents and businesses upset at their potential impacts on new development.

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