Townsville Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy


Queensland’s State Planning Policy 3/11: Coastal Protection requires each affected Council to prepare a Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy (CHAS) for urban localities that are projected to be within a high coastal hazard area. The CHAS is based on an assessment of options that will mitigate the hazard including retreat, avoidance and defence, and a cost-benefit analysis to determine the most cost effective works or actions, taking into account long-term social, financial and environmental factors.

Townsville City Council was to become the ‘first mover’ in developing a CHAS, supported by project partners including the Local Government Association of Queensland, the then Department of Environment and Resource Management, and GHD Pty Ltd assisted by Griffith University’s Centre for Coastal Management.

This project developed and delivered a systemic approach to identifying coastal hazards in specific geographical locations across the Townsville local government area. From this, the risks of the hazards were calculated and adaptation options identified. Each option was assessed using customised tools that took account of economic, social and environmental factors. From this assessment ‘preferred adaptation’ options and investments were identified.

The end result is a comprehensive, evidence based approach to respond to climate change impacts on coastal hazards in the Townsville area.

Risks and Impacts Addressed 

Coastal hazards likely to impact property and infrastructure in the Townsville local government area, including coastal erosion, stormtide inundation and sea level rise.

Drivers for Adaptation Action 

The creation of State Planning Policy 3/11 requiring each affected Council to prepare a Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy (CHAS).

The availability of funding from Department of Industry, Innovation Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE). The Coastal Adaptation Decision Pathways Program encouraged the development of the Strategy. In 2012, the Local Government Association of Queensland approached the then Office of Climate Change in the then Department of Environment and Resource Management to consider a Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy pilot project in partnership with the Townsville City Council.

Outcomes Achieved 

A robust methodology, tools and processes to respond effectively to coastal hazards in Townsville and other relevant coastal locations as evidenced by:

  • CHAS study report detailing the process and results of the study and including:
    • Risk and vulnerability assessment
    • Economic assessment through the adaptation options
    • Project learnings and recommendations
    • Extent of selected adaptation options
  • A Compendium of Coastal Adaptation for Queensland (QLD) Coastal Councils providing information for QLD Councils on: a range of adaptation options specific to QLD coastal areas; a technical description of each adaptation option (including practical examples) and a multi-criteria overview assessing each option against climate uncertainty, social, environmental and economic criteria.