The Local Government Association of South Australia says specific measures are needed to future-proof the state’s coastlines. 

The council group’s SA Climate Ready Coasts program has identified seven critical steps to protect vulnerable coastlines against climate change. 

The Local Government Association (LGA) has engaged with 30 coastal councils, key state government departments, regulatory bodies, and research institutions.

It says feedback gathered during this process has uncovered several priorities, including:

1. Establishing clear coastal governance.

2. Developing Coastal Hazard Adaptation Planning Standards.

3. Establishing a quality control mechanism.

4. Developing a flexible implementation model to accommodate various coastal, council, and community contexts.

5. Determining the appropriate scale and scope for coastal hazard adaptation.

6. Improving access to funding to expedite coastal hazard adaptation planning and action.

7. Building skills, momentum, and a culture of sharing through investment in coordination.

Clinton Jury, LGA South Australia CEO, says the program will be important for improving coastal management in the state. 

“More than 90 per cent of people living in South Australia are located within 50 kilometres of the coast, while around six million tourists visit our beaches every year - that’s why it’s critically important we have appropriate measures in place to protect and preserve our coastline,” Mr Jury said.

Mr Jury noted current gaps in coastal adaptation efforts, particularly in governance, information, infrastructure, and funding, which leave South Australian coastlines vulnerable to stronger storms, severe coastal hazards, and rising sea levels due to climate change. 

This vulnerability risks damage to people, homes, infrastructure such as jetties, and natural resources.

The next immediate step for the SA Climate Ready Coasts program is drafting the Coastal Hazard Adaptation Planning Standards for South Australia. 

These standards are intended to establish principles and methodologies for coastal adaptation, to be adopted by both local and state governments. 

The LGA says they will build upon and replace its previous Coastal Adaptation Guidelines, last updated in 2019, creating a consistent statewide approach with minimum standards for coastal hazard adaptation planning and providing supporting tools and resources.

Stage two of the program, scheduled from July 2024 to December 2025, will deliver projects, grants, and activities to accelerate coastal hazard adaptation planning.

The SA Climate Ready Coasts program is being delivered by LGA South Australia in partnership with the SA Coast Protection Board, Department for Environment and Water, Adelaide Coastal Councils Network, and SA Coastal Councils Alliance. 

More details are accessible here.