Feasibility Assessment frequently asked questions

What is a feasibility assessment?

The feasibility assessment is a process to evaluate and highlight local adaptation options that are practical, effective and have minimal negative impacts. It collates the outcomes achieved so far by the local Community Working groups and employs the NSW Government framework to formalise the assessment process. The framework comprises the Coastal Management Act 2016, The Coastal Management SEPP2018, NSW Coastal Manual (2018) and the coast and estuary grant funding requirements. Local adaptation plans that are well aligned with the framework have an easier pathway to implementation and are more eligible for grant and funding opportunities.

Why is it needed as part of the Local Adaptation Planning process?

The feasibility assessment reviews the practicality of the selected options, evaluating the legal and technical and engineering feasibility and effectiveness of each option. A panel of community members, government representatives and Council consider the performance of each option under local conditions, and the potential for negative environmental, economic and social impacts. The panel also evaluates the likely lifespan of each option, its technical requirements and the complexity of planning, implementation and monitoring.

Following the framework ensures options requiring greater technical or engineering design that are ultimately put forward in the local adaptation plan, are thoroughly considered to address the potential flooding and tidal inundation risks in the area.

What consultant delivered the feasibility assessment?

Council engaged consultant Umwelt Australia Pty Ltd to undertake the feasibility assessment for selected adaptation options. They were assisted by Salients Consulting.

Who are the main stakeholders in this process?

The main stakeholders in this process include:

  • Joint Council and Community Working groups, one for Pelican and Blacksmiths and another for Swansea and Surrounds. For this process, the two local community representative groups worked collaboratively together with Council.
  • A Steering Committee made up of Council, community and NSW Government representatives.
  • Industry experts including Dr David Wainwright, a coastal and environmental engineer with Salients Consulting and Umwelt Australia.

How many options were assessed?

Thirty-one options were part of the final feasibility assessment process. These included coastal protection options, such as foreshore protection works, accommodating options, such as raise and fill residential land, and major changes, such as relocation of Swansea’s economic centre (CBD).

A list of the 31 options assessed is available in the Feasibility Assessment Report on page 38, Table 3.11 and throughout sections four to six of the report.

Process to shortlist the adaptation options

Council has been working with the Swansea, Pelican and Blacksmiths communities and surrounding areas over the past few years to develop adaptation options to mitigate future flood risks and meet the needs of these local communities.

We began with 182 options from the community, which were then condensed to 112 options by the joint Council and Community Working groups. These were further shortlisted to 31 options to proceed to feasibility assessment by the Steering Committee. The Feasibility Assessment recommended 17 options which were further reviewed and finally eight options will progress to the next step, the cost benefit analysis.

Many of the options to be included in the local adaptation plans will be incorporated into Council’s operational plans and delivery program as they are considered to be business as usual.

What does the feasibility assessment process involve?

The complex nature of the coastal environment means areas within local adaptation plans are valued in different ways, which can result in conflicting objectives. To manage this process, it was determined that a multi-criteria analysis be used to evaluate the options determined together by Council and the Community Working groups. This analysis was the method used to conduct the feasibility assessment.

What is a multi-criteria analysis (MCA)?

MCA is a tool to support decision making where there are multiple, potentially conflicting values and objectives. It provides a methodology for Council and the Community Working groups to collaboratively balance these different perspectives to achieve agreement on the best way forward.

MCA specifically incorporates the participation of stakeholders, including the joint Council and Community Working groups and industry experts, to assign weights to criteria that reflect their attitudes and values. It combines expertise and experience from literature with input from local stakeholders, through a structured process and provides information that decision makers can use to help determine which options should proceed to the cost benefit analysis.

What are the key outcomes of the feasibility assessment report?

The MCA process was successful, 17 options were favourable and recommended for further discussion. The Steering Committee further shortlisted these options, based on their feasibility assessment recommendations, to eight options plus a business as usual ‘base case’ scenario to progress to the cost benefit analysis.

These eight options include:

  • Raise and fill residential land
  • Raise and fill other areas
  • Protection works at Black Neds Bay
  • Raise Ungala Road
  • Relocate holiday park
  • Wetlands move on to environmental land
  • Wetlands move on to other types of adjoining land
  • Offset losses of wetlands with reservations in Lake areas

What happens with the other suggested options?

Many of the options suggested by the community will be included in the local adaptation plans and incorporated into Council’s operational plans and delivery program to be implemented as business as usual. As such, they were not required to proceed to the feasibility assessment, cost benefit analysis and distribution analysis but they are still important options to implement when necessary.

These options fall into the following categories:

  • ongoing community education and engagement
  • flood preparedness and early warning systems
  • policy, regulation and City planning
  • monitoring and maintenance including but not limited to water levels, infrastructure assets, such as bridges, breakwalls and drainage, and environmental assets, such as wetlands
  • access and emergency planning, including evacuation routes
  • sand replenishment and dune management
  • additional foreshore protection works

What happens next?

The next step in the local adaptation planning process is the cost benefit analysis, followed by the distribution analysis.

The cost benefit analysis of adaptation options is an assessment method that sets the costs and benefits on common ground so that they can be compared and evaluated. The cost benefit analysis is designed to take into account the full range of potential benefits and costs of each option, including measuring them over time. It also evaluates the ‘base case’ scenario, where we maintain our business as usual delivery of programs across the area.

The framework is focused on the social welfare of local communities and can assist in guarding against bad decisions.

The distribution analysis examines the same options to identify the distribution of costs, benefits and implications for different parties involved, including the NSW Government, Council, property owners, the local community, visitors and businesses.

This work will provide an understanding of the financial implications if or when the examined options are required.

On completion of these two processes, the draft Local Adaptation plans for Pelican and Blacksmiths and Swansea and Surrounds will be developed. The draft plans are expected to be submitted to Council for review and placed on public exhibition later this year.

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