The planning system in Victoria is failing to protect communities from flooding, the state’s peak body for town planners says.
As much of the state is being impacted by floods, the Planning Institute of Australia has called on the next state government to provide leadership in regard to the provision of flood information.
According to PIA, the current planning system is failing in terms of flooding in several ways.
First, the system does not adequately and consistently provide the necessary information relating to riverine and coastal flooding.
Much of the available information is patchy and outdated, PIA says. In many cases, meanwhile, the nature and likely magnitude of future flood risk as a result of climate change is not known.
Even where flood mapping is up-to-date and the risks known, PIA says such information is not always reflected in planning controls.
This means that new housing and development can occur in areas which are either flood prone or which are vulnerable to sea level rise.
Meanwhile, the extent of likely flood impact is often not shown in property planning reports and is thus not available to prospective home buyers.
Finally, local councils rarely have either the budgets which are necessary to pay for the modelling or the political authority to apply controls at the local level.
In response, PIA is calling on the next Victorian Government to develop a framework for flood mapping which provides consistent and accurate information in a similar manner as was done for bushfires after the Black Saturday fires.
”The high rainfall and associated flooding we are seeing across the state are the foreshadowed impacts of climate change.” PIA Victorian Division President Gabby McMillan said.
“However, in many places, the dynamic nature of flood risk under climate change is either not known or not accounted for.
“The information we have on riverine and, in particular, on coastal inundation is patchy and outdated.
“Even where flood mapping is up-to-date and the risks known, these risks are not always reflected in planning controls like the Land Subject to Inundation Overlay.
“At present, there is a patchwork of datasets gathered and applied inconsistently by Councils and water authorities who often do not have the budgets to pay for the necessary modelling or the political authority to apply controls at a local level.
“Tough decisions will almost inevitably need to be taken in communities that are subject to unacceptably high levels of risk from flooding.
“We are calling on the next state government to ensure that we have consistent and accessible information to inform those decisions.”
The latest call comes as many communities in Victoria’s north and central region remain under heavy impact from last weeks’s deluge of rain.
That deluge has prompted calls to better protect homes and communities from risks associated with increasing weather events.
Earlier this year, the Climate Council warned that as many as one in 25 Australian homes could be uninsurable by 2030 as a result of increasing climate risk.