A report prepared by experts at Griffith University revealed estimated costs of measures to protect vulnerable areas in Bowen and Wilson Beach. Picture: Mike Dugdale
A report prepared by experts at Griffith University revealed estimated costs of measures to protect vulnerable areas in Bowen and Wilson Beach. Picture: Mike Dugdale

Cost of rising sea levels on Whitsunday towns revealed

PROTECTING vulnerable properties from rising sea levels and coastal erosion could cost $300 million with seawalls, land buybacks and road raising all on the cards.

A report prepared by experts at Griffith University was presented to Whitsunday Regional Council at Tuesday's ordinary meeting.

The report was set to give the council an insight into the potential impacts of sea level rise and the best steps they could take in reducing the impact on residents.

Bowen and Wilson Beach were used as case studies to examine the impacts of storm tide inundation, coastal erosion and rising sea levels.

Location of sea walls, sea dykes and road raising in Bowen. Picture: Supplied
Location of sea walls, sea dykes and road raising in Bowen. Picture: Supplied

 

The report estimated the cost of sea walls and road raising to protect the coastal areas sat at $270 million for Bowen and $30 million for Wilson Beach.

The report also made recommendations on how the council could prepare for the effects of rising sea levels.

In Bowen, these included land use planning, changes to zoning and land surrender.

Constructing a combination of seawalls and levees stretching from Queen's Beach to the mouth of the Don River and over to Denison Park was on the cards.

A combination of buybacks and land swaps was also floated, as was medium term protection from a sea wall in front of Thomas St.

In Wilson Beach, mangrove planting, land surrender and beach nourishment were among the priorities.

Location of sea walls, sea dykes and road raising for Wilson Beach. Picture: Supplied
Location of sea walls, sea dykes and road raising for Wilson Beach. Picture: Supplied

This included full protection through sea walls and levees to protect the beachfront and an uplift of the access road were recommended.

Land swaps and buy backs were also considered.

In both cases, a 'business as usual' approach would have serious consequences for landowners.

A cost-benefit analysis was also carried out to give insight into how the council could get the best return on its spending in climate change mitigation.

The analysis revealed difficult decisions would be needed in certain protection zones.

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According to the council agenda, "there will be winners and losers in this process and the sooner that community is brought on board the more effective and equitable the outcomes of such a process will be".

It was also reported that none of the options would provide a return of more than 10 cents for every dollar spent.

Councillors unanimously voted to receive the report alongside another report that outlined the challenges and opportunities the council could face in funding climate change adaptation schemes.


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