Rising seas 'threaten thousands of Australian homes'

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The Independent Online

Australia may have to force people to evacuate coastal areas as rising sea levels threaten thousands of homes, an official report has warned.

The National Sea Change Taskforce said urgent action was needed to protect Australia's coast from seas expected to rise more than 80 centimetres (31 inches) this century.

The sweeping parliamentary report noted that 80 percent of Australians live in coastal areas with about 711,000 homes within three kilometres (about two miles) of the sea.

It urged authorities to consider "the possibility of a government instrument that prohibits continued occupation of the land or future building development on the property due to sea hazard".

The move was among dozens of recommendations in the report including a national coastline plan, greater cooperation between different authorities and a revised building code to cope with storm surges and soil erosion.

"There were some who argued ... that governments ought to take a more proactive approach," said the committee's chairwoman, Labor MP Jennie George.

"Some councils have implemented what's loosely described as forced retreat policies."

Australia's major cities are all in coastal areas, as well as the homes of some six million people outside the main population centres, according to the report which was tabled in parliament on Monday.

Last week the government reintroduced carbon trading legislation which was rejected in August and is among a package of bills aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent by 2020.

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