The Peron Naturaliste Partnership (PNP) – a collaboration of nine local governments from the Peron Naturaliste region – has just released the results of its latest study into the impacts of climate change in the coastal zone.

The PNP is made up of coastal cities and shires between Cape Peron in Rockingham to Cape Naturaliste in Busselton, and was formed to empower resilient regional communities to reduce risks and optimise opportunities presented by climate change.

These Local Government Areas represent more than 60 percent of residential buildings at risk of climate change impacts in WA.

As identified in the Australian Government’s First Pass National Assessment, this residential infrastructure has an estimated replacement value between $2.9 billion and $4.62 billion.

In its latest project, the PNP received Federal Government funding to assess potential impacts and how the nine local governments could respond to coastal hazards arising from climate change-induced sea level rise in the region.

The Coastal Adaptation Decision Pathways project – Developing Flexible Adaptation Pathways for the Peron Naturaliste Coastal Region of WA – explores coastal adaptation pathways for the local governments into the future.

The project identified that until 2110 in the Peron Naturaliste region:

  • erosion is a far more pervasive issue than flooding;
  • 800 hectares of residential land would be subject to increased flooding risk;
  • close to a 200m wide strip along the whole extent of the coastline is at risk from erosion;
  • the value of the affected assets at risk along this section of coastline is approximately $1.2 billion, and $1.1 billion of assets are worth saving, at a cost of around $120 million
  • ownership of coastal protection assets need to be clarified; and
  • there is a need to request funding to address limitations highlighted in report.

At the PNP’s Annual General Meeting in Mandurah today, the partners agreed to delegate these findings to the State Government, asking the relevant State Ministers to acknowledge the work of the PNP and to commitment to supporting the group’s future endeavours.

Today, the nine partners also re-signed the Memorandum Of Understanding, pledging to work together for a further two years, and endorsed the new Business Plan to continue the PNP’s efforts.

PNP Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator Joanne Ludbrook said the Partnership’s next step was to begin informing key stakeholders and the wider community on ways to respond to the challenges identified in the latest study.

“It is paramount that all partners and local governments work together for the long-term vision, agreeing on future shared responsibilities and building readiness and preparedness for possible impacts,” Ms Ludbrook said.

The PNP is already building on the work already undertaken, with new geo-technical studies and investigations to take place over 12-month period to improve the understanding of coastal processes and risks.

The information gathered will be used to review local coastal hazard mapping and actions that may needed to address the risk posed by coastal climate change.

The Australian Government has provided more than $400,000 and the WA Department of Transport has committed $72,000 towards this latest research. A number of other State Government departments are also represented on the steering committee including the departments of Environment and Conservation, Planning, and Water.

Mandurah Mayor Paddi Creevey said the Peron Naturaliste region had been identified as one of the most vulnerable areas in WA to the impacts of climate change and coastal erosion.

“These recent findings highlight the importance of taking a collaborative approach to help reduce the risks to these areas,” she said.

“The City of Mandurah Council has always had the desire to use the most up-to-date science to help prepare for future impacts of climate change, and we take these latest findings very seriously.”

In moving forward, the PNP has started the community engagement phase of the project, with the Communication Strategy 2013-2015 and Pilot Community Engagement Strategy 2013-2015 now in place.

The PNP will start to communicate their project and research outcomes to key partners and the wider community, with the City of Mandurah and the City of Busselton to take part in the pilot projects.

The WA Department of Planning Coast West funded Peron Naturaliste Partnership Coastal Community Adaptation Awareness Plan – Google Earth Workshop will be held in July to assist with the community engagement process.