Wilson Beach has been selected as a case study location for a new climate change adaptation project. Picture: Rae Wilson
Wilson Beach has been selected as a case study location for a new climate change adaptation project. Picture: Rae Wilson

Whitsunday town to be case study for sea level rise project

A small Whitsunday community has been dubbed an "ideal representative town" to be used as a case study for climate change adaptation.

At last week's Whitsunday Regional Council meeting, councillors unanimously voted to endorse Wilson Beach as a case study location for an adaptation project to be undertaken by council's Climate Hub in partnership with Griffith University.

Kingborough Council in Tasmania also will be part of the Funding and Financing Adaptation - A Case Study Project to help share costs and outcomes.

The council's natural resource management and climate co-ordinator Scott Hardy told councillors at the meeting the aim would be to investigate the options and funding needed to help small coastal communities adjust to sea level rise.

"The project will look at possible impacts of sea level rise at this proposed location, Wilson Beach, and involve community consultation," Mr Hardy said.

More stories:

Whitsunday father of two busted with homegrown dope plants

What potential cyclone means for Whitsundays, Mackay weather

How to activate your free Courier Mail subscription

Mr Hardy said some key focus points would be looking at policy hurdles for funding adaptations, what land use planning tools would need to be developed and what residents thought about how to defend and retreat.

Another question would involve assessing if there was a planned retreat, what the options would be and how they would be funded.

"The outcome of the project will be used to inform the implementation of the Whitsundays Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy, which we hope to finish about June this year," Mr Hardy said.

Mr Hardy said tools to help defend communities could involve building seawalls or sandbag walls, but they could be costly.

He said planned retreating also had social implications and cost money.

"We need a strategy on how to develop funding for these options," Mr Hardy said.

"It is going to be a relevant issue for a number of coastal communities in towns up and down the coast.

"We need to do our research and look at cost benefit analysis of the options so we can make the best decisions going forward."

Wilson Beach in the Whitsundays. Picture: Rae Wilson
Wilson Beach in the Whitsundays. Picture: Rae Wilson

Division 6 councillor Mike Brunker said his support leant towards defence.

While natural options such as planting more vines or trees were often suggested when dune degradation was raised, Cr Brunker said there was still an issue at Rose Bay as metres of beach had been lost in the king tides since January.

"We have to take into consideration the whole Queensland coast, the amount it is developed, and having to use hard protection in those certain areas," he said.

"I would hate to be trying to relocate people out of Queens Beach or Rose Bay, so I am glad we are looking at everything."

Mr Hardy said nature-based solutions had not proven effective in other locations but it would still be investigated as an option.

More stories:

Bowen man appeals jail term over child sex crimes

New foodie event to champion local produce in Proserpine

What's next for our reef as 2020 named second-hottest year

The project is expected to cost $45,000 across five stages, with this amount being shared equally between the Whitsunday and Kingborough councils.

Council agenda documents state the information gathered through the study would be useful in advocating for funding and highlighting to the State Government the support the council may need to implement adaptation.

"Wilson Beach is considered an ideal representative town of smaller, more isolated communities, such as Dingo Beach, Hydeaway Bay and many other coastal towns around Australia," council documents state.

"Communities such as Wilson Beach are at highest risk of coastal hazard impacts, now and in the future, and it is important they are continually updated and engaged about the potential risks and opportunities they face."