Exclusive waterfront properties may become Australia’s future slums as ocean views are replaced by scenes of erosion, flooding and disease-ridden backwaters.
Independent think tank the Climate Council, which was crowd funded after the Federal Government's Climate Commission was abolished, predicted $226 billion in coastal assets would be exposed to flooding around the nation in a report released yesterday, with Darwin, Bundaberg and Sydney singled out.
Lead author Dr Will Steffen said water and river frontages would lose their value.
“Properties on the absolute waterfront will be less desirable because they’ll be less viable,” Steffen said.
“We’ll see property value drop to nil and infrastructure flooded so regularly that it’s written off.
“Insurance companies are already pulling out of areas prone to coastal erosion or in floodplains.
“If a property cannot be insured at a reasonable rate, people will think twice and it might change cultural attitudes to that Australian dream of owning a beach house.”
Weekender and summer home owners, meanwhile, said they felt powerless to prepare for issues like coastal erosion.
The Australian Coastal Councils Association executive director Alan Stokes lobbied unsuccessfully to have the Census changed to help fly-in-fly-out coastal residents.
“The Census will be mid-week in winter when quite a proportion of residents won’t be in their coastal home,” Stokes said.
“There’s no doubt the threat of rising sea levels and climate change will affect our coastline in the future and we need to prepare for it now.
“By seriously understating the numbers of these coastal communities, in some cases by 30 percent, there are issues in relation to getting resources to deal with coastal erosion and prepare for the impact of climate change.”
Stokes said councils were powerless to stop development in potentially risky coastal areas.
“The coastal zone is considered very desirable and development applications are going in front of councils where climate science says the property would be impacted by climate change in the future,” Stokes said.
“They can reject it and it will often go to the Land and Environment Count, which is costly, or they can approve it and leave themselves exposed to having a claim for damages against them when sea levels rise.
“They’re in a no-win situation.”