14 January 2011 – The Planning Institute of Australia said on Friday that the Queensland flood crisis had focused the need for climate change to be considered in planning for the future and proved that modern planning protocols could work to protect communities, even in low lying areas.

PIA national president Neil Savery said that major natural disasters had challenged civilisations throughout history and each time “the human endeavour rebounds with better built environments arising from the lessons learned.

“In this case the extent of the influence of climate change on these floods and future similar events will need to be considered.”

PIA Queensland President Greg Tupicoff said hat the current floods had not only identified areas “that should have been better planned when they were built decades ago, but alsolocations that have survived because modern planning had it right.

“There are examples of new commercial and industrial developments in the low lying Oxley area that fared well this time demonstrating how modern planning is working,” Mr Tupicoff said.

“Major long term planning is important. The Story Bridge, the Gateway and the cross river tunnel are examples of major nation building infrastructure that have been built with vision.”

However Mr Tupicoff said that areas that had suffered most were those planned “decades ago”.

“A nation is built gradually over many decades and if every community could have been planned using today’s vision, technology and regulations there’s no doubt they would have fared better.

“Queensland has been inundated by flood waters covering an area the size of Pakistan. This has been called a one in a hundred year event and councils, governments and stakeholders will now be looking at ways to ensure communities are better protected well into the future.

“In their analysis of the current situation, expert hydrologists, environmentalists and engineers will now be advising on the merits or otherwise of new dam locations.”

Mr Tupicoff said that Wivenhoe Dam had proved its worth in the current crisis.

“Brisbane has suffered the worst inundation since 1974 but without the Wivenhoe Dam acting as a flood buffer, the city would have suffered a lot more a lot earlier.

“Wivenhoe was built to flood proof Brisbane just as building codes were comprehensively rewritten after Cyclone Tracey flattened Darwin.

Mr Savery said all agencies, including volunteer organisations involved in the management of this crisis were putting in “a magnificent effort.”

The Institute was already moving to establish a volunteer register of planning professionals from across the country who could support colleagues in Queensland as they faced the immense task of rebuilding shattered communities, he said.

“I congratulate Premier Anna Bligh and the Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the way they have dealt with this. There is a long road to hoe and the planning community stands ready to assist.”