Toowoomba Region residents can draw on some of Australia’s most comprehensive flood studies and associated historical data to safeguard their families and properties against future flood events.

Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) Planning and Development Committee chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan said Council’s extensive work to create a safer, stronger, more resilient region had reached an important milestone with today’s (July 21) approval of an amendment to the Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme relating to the region-wide management of flood risk.

The amendment was approved at the July Ordinary Meeting of Council.

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said the amendment included measures to ensure future development in flood-affected areas did not place people or property at risk or make flooding worse.

“It identifies which land uses and which types of development require development approval and the standards that new development must meet,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.

“The amendment was undertaken after the preparation of flood studies and extensive community consultation over the past eight years.

“Council has used best practice methodology and the best available information to identify the areas subject to flooding within our region.

“This extensive body of work has been independently peer reviewed and has won national awards form the Planning Institute of Australia (for planning excellence) and Floodplain Management Australia.

“Council has worked closely with the REIQ and Insurance Council of Australia to understand and address residents’ concerns about the potential impact of recognising flood risk on property values and insurance costs.”

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said on June 30 this year Council received Ministerial approval to adopt the amendment.

TRC Planning and Development Committee portfolio leader Cr Bill Cahill said Council had a duty of care to the community and a responsibility to identify and respond to flood risks within our region.

“Following the 2010/11 floods, Council embarked on one of the largest and most ambitious bodies of Flood Risk Management Studies and Flood Risk Management Plans undertaken by a local government in Australia,” Cr Cahill said.

“At the core of this work was the Flood Risk Assessment Planning Evaluation and Scheme Amendment (FRAPESA) project. It delivered multiple flood studies for 30 townships across the region and the Condamine River catchment, along with comprehensive recommendations to better regulate development within flood risk areas to protect people, property, infrastructure and the environment from flooding.

“More accurate flood mapping offers a better understanding of a location’s vulnerability to flooding.

“It helps to raise awareness about flooding and flood risks around the region for residents and policy makers at the State and local levels of government. More detailed information leads to greater transparency and more certainty for residents.

“A greater level of detail in the mapping means insurers can locate individual properties more accurately on flood risk maps and rate premiums accordingly.

“The Insurance Council of Australia praised Council for its detailed body of work, which enables insurance companies to draw on evidence-based data when pricing premiums.”