December 11, 2014

Re-zoning: rights vs liability vs climate


And so the  RE-zoning story develops further.

In a report today by the ABC, MBRC mayor, Allan Sutherland, has attacked the state government over its approach to the 0.8m sea level rise:
The Queensland Government will force more councils to remove climate change references from their regional plans, the Moreton Bay Mayor has warned.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney ordered Moreton Bay Regional Council to remove any assumption about a "theoretical projected sea level rise" from its plan.
Mr Seeney said the reference to climate change would have restricted the right of residents to build and develop their properties.
Mayor Allan Sutherland said the edict meant his council would be out of step with Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and other councils that had incorporated the same assumption of a 0.8 metre sea level rise by 2100 into their plans

While allowing for newspaper spin and journalese, this is the bit that jumped out at me:
Cr Sutherland said he told Mr Seeney the State Government had to direct the council to remove the sea level reference because if the council had done so voluntarily it could be legally liable.
"We will now remove it from our planning scheme because we've been requested to do so," he said.
"That shifts the responsibility from the council to the State Government.
"It will now be the State Government that will carry the liability into the future."
As I pointed out last post, the primary game is shifting liability -- in the case of council (at least) without consultation with  the communities supposedly at risk.So if Sutherland can wash his the collective MBRC hands of the issue of sea level rise, he's happy the buck's been passed.

But you have to wonder, to whom has it been shifted?

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In later news to hand the debate is explored further in this piece from The Brisbane TimesJeff Seeney defends telling council not to include sea levels in regional plan:
Mr Seeney said taking account of a 0.8 metre potential sea rise in the Moreton Bay planning scheme removed the rights of individual property owners to lodge development applications and have them assessed on their own merits.
"I intervened in this issue to ensure residents' rights to build and develop their properties was maintained and not restricted by their local council," he said.
On December 9, Moreton Bay Regional Council mayor Cr Allan Sutherland said the council was concerned about it liability if a property was inundated by rising seas in the future.
Despite public pressure, the council has been reluctant to remove any assumptions about sea level rise from the scheme, arguing it would open future administrations up to legal action, he told the Caboolture News.
"For many months there's been a lot of misinformation, a lot of politically motivated [actions], a lot of skullduggery, a lot of half truths," Cr Sutherland said.
"In lay terms, we can take it out and get rid of it [predicted sea level rises] - it's out of our planning scheme and no one can see it," he said.
"But when someone comes along and puts an application in we have a very real obligation to include that and take that into account in our DA assessment, otherwise we could be held liable in that instance."
The Caboolture News delivered the mayor's story this way
And The Sunshine Coast Daily:

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