The latest Infrastructure Priority List, released by Infrastructure Australia on 26 February, includes coastal inundation as one of five new high priority national initiatives.
The other new high priority initiatives are national water strategy, town and country water security, waste and recycling management and a national road maintenance strategy.
Romilly Madew, the Chief Executive of Infrastructure Australia, said the new Infrastructure Priority List reflects the diversity and urgency of Australia’s future infrastructure needs. She said rising sea levels over the 21st Century will put many of Australia’s coastal cities and economic centres at risk of inundation.
The section of the priority list dealing with coastal inundation states: “The initiative is for a proactive infrastructure strategy in advance of the inundation risks materialising. Involving engagement with all levels of government, the strategy will need to consider which areas should be protected for continued use, modified to accommodate floods, or withdrawn from altogether.
“Depending on these decisions, infrastructure options could include seawalls, buffer zones and other physical assets to protect populations, or infrastructure to facilitate early flood warnings and evacuations.”
Ms Madew said it is the role of Infrastructue Australia, as an independent advisory body, to “bring these problems and opportunities into the national spotlight to spark investment and coordinated action from industry and government.”
Cr Sharon Cadwallader, Chair of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, welcomed the inclusion of coastal inundation on the new high priority infrastructure list, and said funding support was desperately needed to build the resilience of coastal communities.
“Infrastructure Australia provides advice on Australia’s infrastructure priorities and evaluates the business case for major projects,” she said. “But it does not make project funding decisions, so the question of where the funds to address coastal issues are going to come from remains open.“