Major flooding across Victoria has coincided with a call by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) for urgent amendments to the Victorian planning system to help keep communities safe and resilient in a changing climate.
With major flood warnings currently in place for more than 10 rivers across the state, the MAV on Wednesday called on all parties to commit to amending Victoria’s planning legislation and planning provisions to embed climate change considerations and support the transition to net zero emissions.
Less than 48 hours later, residents across the state awoke to news that the Maribyrnong River had flooded suburbs surround Melbourne’s CBD, while the Goulburn River in Seymour had broken its banks, leading to a number of residents needing to be rescued by boat.
Working through the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances, Councils across the state last year commissioned a review of how Victoria’s planning system addresses climate change.
MAV says the review identified a “clear disconnect” between high level State and local government policy positions on climate change and the day-to-day planning decisions being made. Changes to the Planning and Environment Act and to the Victorian Planning Provisions are needed to address this, the Association says.
Key recommendations from the review include:
- Making explicit the need to consider climate change in planning schemes;
- Ensuring planning schemes are updated to include current hazard data;
- Including a much stronger focus on net zero and climate resilience in planning for precincts and for subdivisions.
MAV President, David Clark said state leadership on the issue was essential.
“The State must lead the way to embed climate change as a priority in planning legislation and the Victorian planning provisions to reduce emissions and keep our communities safe,” Cr Clark said.
“Planning decisions made today shape local communities for decades to come. It is critical that the planning system supports councils to require developers to actively address climate change risks in their applications.
“With the built environment responsible for close to a quarter of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, councils are united in their call to all parties to commit to making the changes needed in the next Parliament.”
The MAV Climate Change State Election asks:
- A commitment to embed climate change as a priority consideration in land use planning legislation and the Victorian Planning Provisions in the life of the next Parliament;
- Schedule 1 of the Climate Change Act amended to include decisions under planning, transport, agriculture, and energy legislation;
- Establishment of a new strategic partnership between state and local government to accelerate the transition to net zero and to strengthen community resilience, with funding support for councils to reduce and manage climate risks;
- Funding support for the implementation of priority urban greening projects;
- A commitment to provide councils with the powers and capability to manage public drainage and stormwater assets to withstand more intense storm events and to achieve better use of stormwater and continued innovation in integrated water management.
Meanwhile, it’s estimated around 500 homes are currently under flood waters in the suburbs around Melbourne’s CBD, with the Maribyrnong River set to peak later this morning.
SES Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp said he expected the water level would sink quickly following the peak.
Victoria SES chief operations officer, Tim Wiebusch said people in Maribyrnong could expect the flood threat to remain for the next one to two days.
“People need to be aware that our rivers are in flood pretty much right across the state now,” he said.
Victorian Emergency Management has so far conducted more than 120 rescues.