As the Alpine Shire of Victoria’s north east continues with its bizarre ‘cart before horse’ approach to getting a major development going within the Buffalo National Park, it is also doing some useful and considered work on climate change.

Buffalo Plateau from near Mt Hotham

Just this week, Council accepted the final report of a study into the viability of a ‘skyways’ system on Mt Buffalo. Last year Council offered its active support for the proposal, with a community study which was conducted by the Buffalo Skyways Taskforce arm of the Great Alpine Valley Tourism Board.

Unsurprisngly, the study found 64% ‘support’ for the project.

See here for some of the issues associated with developing a major gondola/ skyway project within one of our most significant national parks.

Climate change and the North East

Meanwhile, Council has been working with the adjacent Towong Shire to consider what the expected rise in average temperatures, days of extreme fire-weather risk, drought conditions and a decrease in rainfall and snow will mean for the region, and how to best plan for these conditions.

According to the Alpine Council website:

“The councils assessed how their services and assets would be affected by predicted climate change, including increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather and reduced water availability”.

The CSIRO predicts that temperatures in north-eastern Victoria could be, on average, up to 1.6 degrees warmer by 2030 and up to five degrees warmer by 2070.

Snow fall is expected to be reduced by between 10 and 40 per cent by 2030 and between 22 and 85 per cent by 2050.

The number of very-high and extreme fire-weather risk days is also expected to climb by between four and 25 percent by 2020 and 15 to 70 per cent by 2050.

Alpine Shire Council’s Manager Planning and Environment Services, Heather Green said the findings did not recommend that councils fundamentally change the way they operate. This means that, sadly, there are no real mitigation measures included in Councils response – that is proposals to reduce the emissions of Council operations. Council has taken a  simple  ‘adaptation’ approach, which is generally seen as being insufficient as a strategy for dealing with global warming.

What is suggested is for Council to consider the likely future impacts of climate change on new developments within the Shire’s area. “For example, factoring predicted increases in flooding and storm events when upgrading urban storm-water systems will minimise the need to replace damaged infrastructure and reduce the risk to the community”.

The climate change risk assessments undertaken by both councils will result in the development of specific service area action plans to enable current services, assets and policies to adapt to the predicted climate variability.

The project has been delivered in partnership with the North East Greenhouse Alliance and funded with the assistance of the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

For further information on the Councils response and details on expected climate change impacts, see here.