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May 19th 2010
Survey: house buyers' response to sea level rise

Horseshoe Bay during a king tide CSIRO is conducting a national online survey to determine would-be house-buyers’ attitudes to the effects rising sea levels could have on their investment decisions.

According to CSIRO researcher Dr Nick Abel, the survey will help local and state governments make policy decisions on future coastal property and infrastructure developments.

“We are asking people about what they think about purchasing properties in coastal areas,” Dr Abel said.

“We are also interested in their perspectives on sea level rise and how this influences their choices in purchasing properties in coastal areas.

“By learning more about how house buyers feel about the implications of rising sea levels we can help develop better coastal policy.”

CSIRO researchers are particularly looking for responses from people who have recently bought, or are currently considering buying, property in coastal areas.

“Through the survey people will tell us what they take into consideration when purchasing coastal residences.”

The CSIRO team is talking with insurers, developers, and policy makers in local and state governments in Queensland and New South Wales to better understand the challenges and opportunities from their perspectives.

“The outcomes of the study will be a better understanding of the potential responses of stakeholders to sea level rise. This will help inform state and local government policy makers and decision takers and will be useful to the insurance and development industries too,” Dr Abel said.

CSIRO is conducting a range of research to help Australia respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by a changing climate. The research is designed to help improve our understanding of the Earth’s climate system, find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the society and industry adapt to climate change impacts.

The survey is available at:

Photo: Courtesy Paul Groves

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Survey: house buyers' response to sea level rise
Ray Welsh
May 20th 2010
People who buy waterfront properties today must be living in a vacuum. The risks of sea-level rise are widely avaliable.

Free markets should leave them to make personal choices, however the Government is not responsible for such decisions. Insurance companies should be aware of the risks and charge accordingly.
May 21st 2010
Interesting Ray, but "waterfront" can mean lots of different things. A house on the Strand in Townsville is not obviously at risk from sea level rise, just yet. Sure it might be exposed, in climate change predictions, to more frequent and increasingly stronger storms or cyclones and potentially rising storm surge heights. But peoples' personal observations of the Strand over the past, say, thirty years, don't lead them to believe that the next thirty years are going to be significantly different. It's waterfront, north of Capricorn, so it's going to be smashed occasionally but not so often or so catastrophically that it will never recover. Insurance companies already charge "accordingly".
Inundation, which is more likely to affect vast residential areas AWAY from the Townsville waterfront (unless you count the lower Bohle River catchment as 'waterfront'), presents a greater risk yet there's a responsibility vacuum, if not complicit ignorance that seems to be more like one of those 'public/private partnerships. We're all in them together.
Heather Stevens
May 25th 2010
It is difficult times for people who live in a 'hazard' zone (often defined as an area adjacent to any tidal waterways, including the ocean or estuaries / lakes / bays that is below 3m AHD).

There is currently no federal policies to provide a consistent approach, which means local councils are doing what they can in a piece-meal approach.
Coastal home owners need to take the decision into the own hands, and should consider having a Climate Change Impact Assessment done.

The liability lies with the home owner to be fully informed about the future value of their asset.

Heather Stevens

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