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Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline

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Coastal hazards are natural events which originate from processes and weather events in the ocean. For the purposes of the Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline, the term ‘coastal hazards’ refers to:

  • Coastal erosion – the loss of land, including sand, to the sea which occurs on open coast beaches and in tidal creeks and estuaries. Coastal erosion on beaches can occur rapidly, usually caused by large waves and abnormally high tide levels during a storm. Coastal erosion can also occur slowly over months or years due to subtle changes in currents or sea level rise.
  • Storm-tide inundation – the temporary flooding of low-lying areas caused by abnormally high tide levels during a storm. During these events, changes in air pressure, wind speed and waves cause a ‘surge’ which is the additional water level on top of the normal tide level. In tidal creeks and estuaries, storm-tide conditions may also interact with flooding caused by rain to increase the flood depth.
  • Permanent tidal inundation – the periodic or permanent inundation of land due to a rise in the average sea level.

In Fraser Coast, coastal hazards are not just caused by catastrophic events. Localised storms and king tides often cause damage to local infrastructure, as well as erosion of our beaches. Seasonal northerlies, generally experienced during Spring and Summer, can also cause significant erosion on north facing beaches including Pialba to Urangan. 


Yes – our region has experienced significant damage from coastal hazards during storm and king tide events.

You can view current coastal hazard mapping which is part of the Fraser Coast Planning Scheme here.

This mapping is used to manage development along the coast and combines State Government and Council studies and information.

The mapping currently being undertaken as part of Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline will build on, and refine this mapping. It is anticipated that the updated mapping will be made available later this year.

The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy also provides mapping for various climate change scenarios through its Coast Adapt website.

Yes.  Council has some existing coastal protection structures, such as rock revetment walls and concrete seawalls.  However, the effectiveness of these structures may be impacted by future coastal hazards.  Council will continue to undertake asset inspections to monitor the conditions of these assets and timing of future works, but their management may also be influenced by the Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline project too. 

Storm tide: The effect on coastal water of a storm surge combined with the normally occurring astronomical tide.

Storm tide inundation: Temporary flooding of a portion of land, a localised increase (or decrease) in ocean water levels caused by high winds and reduced atmospheric pressures associated with a storm event.

Coastal erosion: The loss of land or the removal of beach or dune sediments by wave action, wind action, tidal currents or water flows or permanent inundation due to sea-level rise.

Sea level rise: Rise in average sea level that results in permanent inundation of property and infrastructure by sea water. Council measures sea level using the Bureau of Meteorology SEAFRAME stations. The tide gauge at Rosslyn Bay (near Yeppoon) is part of that network and is managed to accurately record sea level change and sea level trends. This data will be used as the sea level rise evidence base for the Bundaberg region.

Coastal Adaptation: Actions undertaken to eliminate or limit the risks posed by a coastal hazard.

Resilience: A system or community’s ability to rapidly accommodate and recover from the impacts of hazards, restore essential and desired functionality, and adapt to new circumstances.

Vulnerability: The conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes, which increase the susceptibility of a community to the impact of hazards.

Risk: Combines an understanding of the likelihood of a hazardous event occurring with an assessment of its impact.

Acceptable Risk: The level of risk, sufficiently low that society is comfortable with. Society does not generally consider expenditure in further reducing such risks justifiable or required

Tolerable risk: The level of risk that, following an understanding of the likelihood and consequences, is low enough to allow the exposure to continue, and at the same time high enough to require new treatments or actions to reduce risk. Society can live with this risk but believes that, as much as is reasonably practical, steps should be taken to reduce the risk further.

Intolerable risk: The level of risk that, following an understanding of the likelihood and consequences, is so high that it requires actions to avoid or reduce the risk.

Adaptation Pathway: An approach for enabling systematic adjustment of adaptation strategies in response to new information or changing circumstances.

The Queensland Government is providing funding and support to coastal Councils across Queensland to prepare coastal hazard adaptation strategies to address short, medium and long term coastal hazards through the QCoast2100 program.

Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline is the preparation of a coastal hazard adaptation strategy for Fraser Coast. The project will provide us with:

  1. Coastal hazard mapping. Coastal hazard impacts will be mapped and will provide an assessment of present day coastal hazards, as well as how they are expected to change into the future.
  2. Risk Assessments and Adaptation Options. Community engagement will be imperative in developing risk assessments for assets in coastal hazard areas, as well as options to respond to coastal hazard impacts.
  3. A strategy for response and action. The strategy will prioritise what is important so that as a community, we can respond to the most pressing and urgent risks and make smart decisions about our coastline. The strategy will also identify the sequencing of actions over time, define roles and responsibilities and what funding will be needed to roll out the actions.

Fraser Coast Regional Council is undertaking this project to better understand the risks posed by coastal hazards that affect our coastline today, as well as those that will affect it in the future. It is important for us to understand how coastal hazards could affect our community, so that we can be prepared and make informed decisions on what short and long-term actions should be taken to manage the risks.

Our coastline is a crucial resource for our community. Many of our towns and communities are located on the coast and are already experiencing coastal erosion and temporary inundation.

Our region has historically experienced the impacts of coastal hazards, and these are likely to increase into the future. The Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline project will help us to better understand both our existing and future risks to ensure they are appropriately managed in the long term.

Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline will provide high quality information to enable well-considered, timely and effective decisions about how to respond to coastal hazard impacts.

This information will also assist short, medium and long-term planning that Council undertakes such as:

  • Land use planning for growth and liveability
  • Development assessment
  • Infrastructure planning and operations- including roads, stormwater, sewerage,  water supply and coastal protection works;
  • Asset management and planning, including management of foreshore areas, playgrounds, and public amenities;
  • Environmental management and conservation activities along the foreshore;
  • Community and corporate planning; and
  • Emergency management.

Yes, there are 30 other coastal councils in Queensland currently participating in the QCoast 2100program.

Information regarding the progress of each Council participating in the QCoast2100 program is available from the QCoast2100 website here.

A number of local and State governments nationally and around the world are already taking action, including in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, along with Auckland Council, the City of Boston, Miami, Singapore and many more.

We plan to learn from others and make sure that coastal hazard planning and adaptation is as effective as possible and locally relevant for the Fraser Coast.

At this stage, we are seeking input to identify what’s important to our community. Gathering this information will ensure we are considering adaptation options that reflect the community’s values and priorities.

When it comes time to think about the adaptation options and priorities, a deliberative democracy approach is going to be taken. A community reference group of approximately 20-30 people will be established to make recommendations to Council.

To stay up-to-date with the project, please register your interest.

At this stage, we need you to tell us what you value about the Fraser Coast coastline. From mid-July you can do this by completing the Values Survey.

During later phases of the project, we’ll be releasing coastal hazard mapping. At this point we’ll be seeking community views on the following:

  1. The consequences of coastal hazard impacts. For example – what infrastructure and assets will be under threat?
  2. What the mapping means for the community. For example – are there likely to be areas that will be inundated infrequently, or at risk of loss from coastal erosion?
  3. Options for action. For example - what are the priorities for the Fraser Coast community? What is most important and when should we be taking action?

The Values Survey will provide quantitative data about what’s important to the Fraser Coast community – and where. This information will feed into later stages of the project, in particular, Phase 5 when Risk Assessments for key assets are developed.

Council has undertaken the following related studies:

Shoreline Erosion Management Plan (SEMP)

Completed in 2012, the SEMP project assessed the erosion hazard on the Fraser Coast region’s coastline for various planning horizons including the then present day (2012), 2030, 2050, 2070 and 2100.

Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline will use these original erosion assessments and undertake more detailed investigations into erosion around tidal waterways, as well as address other coastal hazards including storm tide inundation and permanent tidal inundation which was not included in the focus of the 2012 SEMP.

Hervey Bay Shoreline (Halcro St to Dayman Park) Management Plan

This project provides recommended treatments and priority locations to practically implement the preferred management policy identified in the SEMP of ‘Hold the Line’ between Pialba and Urangan. Whilst priorities may change due to environmental conditions, the outcomes from the Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline project may also influence a further review of treatments and priorities. 

Hervey Bay Esplanade project

The Hervey Bay Esplanade project is about planning for the future use of the Esplanade. Once the Hervey Bay Esplanade project findings have been realised, work will be done to align both projects so that the coastal hazard risks are better understood in the context of how the Esplanade may be used and invested in. Coastal Futures: Planning Our Changing Coastline is much broader in that it is for the entire coastline.