A proposal for the construction of new levees could radically bolster Queensland's resistance to flooding disasters, which have cost the state's taxpayers more than $14.5 billion since 2009.
The cost of repairs and recovery work following the 2013 floods has surpassed $2.5 billion with most of that money going toward rebuilding local government infrastructure and repairing state-controlled roads.
The repair bill from the 2012 floods added up to just over $2 billion, while the cost for the horrendous disasters of 2009 came in at a massive $7.5 billion.
After the 2010/11 floods, the Queensland Government established the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, giving it wide-ranging powers of investigation. The commission considered evidence from written submissions, community meetings, material sought from organisations and individuals with specific expertise, as well as public hearings. The commission’s final report contained 177 recommendations covering a broad range of areas including planning, development and essential services.
On June 7, 2012, the Queensland Government committed to implement all 123 recommendations which relate directly to the state. The government also committed to work with local governments to deliver improved flood outcomes across the state.
Now, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps has released a regulatory impact statement about a new regulatory framework for community consultation designed to strengthen the state’s flood resilience. The new rules specifically target the management of levee banks.
“In response to the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry Final Report, the Newman Government committed to implementing a state-wide regulatory framework for levees and to work with councils to determine the most effective way to regulate levee construction,” Cripps said.
“Consistent with the Commission’s recommendation, the new regulation will only apply to the construction of new levees and the modification of existing levees; it will not be retrospectively applied to existing levees.”
The focus of the proposed framework is to ensure that the design and construction of levees adequately addresses the impact on neighbouring properties, the community and the catchment as a whole. Levees play an important role in floodplain management but they also have the potential to increase the risk of flooding to neighbouring properties
The state government will now listen to landholders and local councils to gather their thoughts about the management of levee bank construction and modification and the levels of assessment that should apply to different types of levees.
“The consultation RIS proposes that the construction of smaller, low impact levees should be self-assessable under a code to be developed by the State Government, rather than requiring any formal approvals,” Cripps said. “Other types of levees may need to be assessed based on potential impacts which could enable neighbours and local landholders to make submissions or lodge appeals on proposed levees.”
He added that feedback is being sought regarding whether assessment management duties for the construction and modification of the levees should fall to the state government or local council.
“Clarifying the regulation of levees will ensure the design and construction of levees adequately assesses their impact on neighbouring properties, communities and affected catchments as a whole,” he said.
Public consultation on the levee Regulation Impact Statement will run until Friday, September 6.