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Insurers warned not to use flood mapping data

Queensland, Australia: Queensland councils have welcomed a new broader approach to flood mapping, but are warning insurers not to use the data to ramp up their premiums.

The state government has released an interim mapping product and development controls toolkit called “Planning for stronger, more resilient floodplains”.

It has been developed in consultation with more than 10 councils, and will be available for others to consider for 40 days.
Its release comes as the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry resumes public hearings, looking into the issues of land zoning and insurance in the wake of the past summer’s floods.

It is expected to hear from Anthony Leighton, from Moggill in Brisbane’s west, who believes Brisbane City Council should never have approved his land for development.

The father-of-two is also alarmed the land has been re-zoned for further development when his family had to be evacuated from their home by the State Emergency Service’s flood boat in January.

Premier Anna Bligh said the new flood mapping approach was developed on a whole-of-catchment view, rather than council by council.

“These are the areas where the state and councils need to focus in their assessment of future developments and types of development,” she said in a statement.

“Sensible planning on floodplains is not about stopping development.

“We are simply saying extra caution needs to be shown about the location of developments and the types of structures built in floodplain areas.”

The toolkit includes a standard template for a development assessment code and basic provisions to support better outcomes from development applications.

By next month October, 40 per cent of the state will have been mapped under the new programme.

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), which was also involved in the exercise, welcomed the collaborative approach with state government agencies including the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.

Acting chief executive Greg Hoffman said the LGAQ submission to the floods inquiry had outlined continued concerns about the funding capacity of some councils to adequately prepare their communities for future natural disasters.
The draft mapping would allow councils to adopt a catchment-wide focus to planning.

“It provides the facility to improve planning outcomes not just for residential areas, but for important economic resources such as agricultural operations and mines,” he said.

But Hoffman also warned insurers and banks not to use the data as a means of determining which customers would receive cover or pay increased premiums after floods.

The floods inquiry will also hear evidence from representatives of Brisbane City Council, the Department of Local Government and Planning and the Department of Community Safety.

Source: The Sunday Morning Herald