EA National President agrees it’s time to invest in disposable or relocatable infrastructure in coastal environments
Among the sustainability regimes shared at the Practical Responses to Climate Change (PRCC) Conference - presented by the National Committee for Water Engineering - in Canberra last week, was the introduction of the concept of low cost “disposable” or “relocatable” infrastructure in coastal environments as a response to sea-level rise and coastal erosion. David Hood, National President of Engineers Australia agreed with the proposed progressive movement of replacing aging coastal infrastructure with more appropriate and adaptable systems.
“Angus Gordon, a coastal engineer and coastal zone manager with over 40 years experience, presented as part of the Urban and Coastal Planning session of the PRCC Conference; highlighting the need for disposable infrastructure including roads, railroads, bridges, sewage systems, telecommunications, power and gas to be introduced to Australia’s coastlines due to the ambulatory nature of our coastlines.
“Coastlines are transitory due to wave, current and wind action causing them to regress and accrete with the littoral drift of sand”.Angus shared his experiences, research and strategies to adapt our living conditions to the varying coastal environment, factoring in our social wellbeing and respect for the natural environment, coupled with statutory requirements and the need for ongoing governance.
“There are clearly a number of Australian properties being built in areas where they are not sustainable, despite being compliant with various planning laws. If we have already allowed billions of dollars of investment in subdividision and urban development on transient land, then our engineers have an added responsibility of ensuring its survivability, as well as minimising any adverse environmental effects.
“As a basic principle, service infrastructure – other than the main spines and connectors – should be laid out with a shore-normal, rather than a shore-parallel configuration and be constructed in a way, (and with such materials) that as shoreline regression occurs, the infrastructure can be readily disconnected, recovered and disposed of without loss of service and at minimal cost and damage to the environment.
“As there are limits to growth on a finite planet; disposable and relocatable coastal infrastructure is an innovative solution for adapting to climate change and should be factored into policy and development decisions in coastal regions,” David Hood said.
Almost 200 delegates came together to hear about plans, options and contingencies for adapting to the changing climate. The PRCC Conferenceidentified engineers as critical for responding to the risks of climate change due to their skills and knowledge of its impacts on the ground, as well as their capacity to develop practical solutions to the problem.
“I enjoyed every aspect of the Conference as it brought together some of the best researchers and practitioners in the water and allied engineering fields to share with us their thinking and the solutions that will hopefully assist in solving the impending sustainability crisis.
“There is no doubt in my mind after working in energy efficiency in the built environment and having studied the scientific reports on climate change and the state of the environment over the past 25 years, that society is facing its most serious challenge ever. Experts in the field need to continue to act-now to develop pathways to sustainable and resilient futures,” David Hood said.
Engineers Australia supports ongoing involvement in the climate policy debate.
For more information please visit http://www.climatechange2012.org