Investigating the long term planning framework for the Galway Bay community from climate change.
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This research looked at the scientific evidence available on climate change and in particular, projections on sea level rise which ranged from 0.5m to 2m by the end of the century. These projections were then considered in an Irish context. A review of current policy in Ireland revealed that there was no dedicated Government policy on climate change or coastal zone management. In terms of spatial planning policy, it became apparent that there was little or no guidance on climate change either at a national, regional or local level. Therefore, to determine the likely impacts of sea level rise in Ireland based on current spatial planning practice and policy, a scenario-building exercise was carried out for two case study areas in Galway Bay. The two case study areas were: Oranmore, a densely populated town located to the east of Inner Galway Bay; and Tawin Island, a rural dispersed community, located to the south east of Inner Galway Bay. A ‘best’ and ‘worse’ case scenario was envisaged for both areas in terms of sea level rise. In the absence of specific climate change policies it was projected that in the ‘best’ case scenario of 0.5m sea level rise, Tawin Island would suffer serious and adverse impacts while Oranmore was likely to experience slight to moderate impacts. However, in the ‘worse’ case scenario of a 2m sea level rise, it was likely that Tawin Island would be abandoned while many houses, businesses and infrastructure built within the floodplain of Oranmore Bay would be inundated and permanently flooded. In this regard, it was the author’s opinion that a strategic and integrated climate change policy and adaptation plan is vital for the island of Ireland that recognises the importance of integrated land use and spatial planning in terms of mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
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