Jeff Seeney, the Queensland Deputy Premier, has just announced a legal order for the Moreton Bay Regional Council to effectively remove any and all references to climate change-based sea level rise from the regional plan.
This intervention, as reported, carries the potential to lead to disastrous future consequences.
Jeff Seeney originally wrote a letter to the Moreton Bay Regional Council on November 28, 2014, immediately directing the council to amend the draft planning scheme it had recently devised by eliminating any assumption hitherto regarding “theoretical” sea level rise.
Jeff Seeney ignores overwhelming evidence of climate change
Despite all scientific evidence and the support from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the council is legally obliged to follow Mr. Jeff Seeney’s mandate.
As a result, Jeff Seeney has now caused a disturbance amongst the different councils of Queensland (which includes Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, as well as Townsville) due to the threat of liabilities looming ahead if they do not take rising sea levels into consideration with local planning.
The councils have therefore turned to the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) to take legal action against this mandate.
Most of the larger councils in Queensland have all taken into consideration the scientific assumption that by the year 2100 there will be a minimum rise in sea level of 0.8 meters.
Mandate has the potential to majorly affect future city planning
The prediction of sea level rise has altered local Government city planning but now Jeff Seeney wants this assumption removed. By simply removing the concept of a future threat, everything from city planning to energy production and energy disposal within these councils will be altered.
It has been reported that the LGAQ has written a letter to Jeff Seeney regarding its concerns for the other councils. Most of the concerns are about insuring council assets and the looming threat of future liabilities if these scientific assumptions on climate change are ignored.
It is also important to note that the Moreton Bay Regional Council has recently ignored two previous meetings by Jeff Seeney to remove the assumption from their city planning schemes. The council took note of the Deputy Premier’s concerns but stuck to the assumption to avoid legal liabilities.
City planning policy put in place to protect residents from environmental changes
Jeff Seeney responded to this by stating his declaration intended to protect residents’ rights, allowing them to construct homes and businesses further out in low-lying coastal suburbs. He has also gone on the record to state he was prepared to continue to fight for property rights of Queensland residents.
However, by his mandate he is also allowing residents to obtain and construct property on potentially hazardous land. Due to climate change it is very likely that properties within these areas would be liable to flash floods. Rising sea levels also indicate that the soil would no longer be suitable for residents.
Other councils such as Townsville and Whitsundays have also incorporated the predicted 0.8 meter rise in sea level in all of their property planning schemes. They are now concerned that Jeff Seeney and his mandate against Moreton would soon be geared towards them as well.