BREC Report on RFGM Population Projections
The State and Local Governments are about to "sign off" on new population planning figures for SEQ. The figure adopted proposes a 36% increase in population by 2011 an extra 820,000 people. This BREC report briefly examines how this figures were obtained and some of the implications of those figures.
The difference between population projections and population planning figures is worth explaining. A population projection in a demographic sense is a simple extrapolation of trends in birth, death, migration and immigration rates. A population planning figure however starts with the projections and factors in desires about population levels. In Section 8 it states "....some infrastructure, such as railways and universities, leads population growth.... It is important however, that the provision of strategic regional level infrastructure is not slowed as this infrastructure is what will allow RFGM outcomes, such as key centres and public transport targets, to be achieved." This statement clearly identifies the desire component to the population planning projections. The specification of desired population outcomes implies a judgement about the carrying capacity of the region or local government.
The RFGM in 1992 rejected the term "carrying capacity" instead opting for
"The preferred approach is to adopt a resource management strategy which involves:
the protection of key environmental resources;
the definition of limits of acceptable change for a wide range of environmental parameters;
monitoring of performance of key indicators through state of environment reporting system; and
the development of appropriate policy, legislative, behavioural or technological responses to avoid crossing the defined limits"
The RFGM 96 and 98 both note that "the ability to accommodate these figures in a manner consistent with all the principles and priority actions of the RFGM needs to be assessed during the implementation and review process"
The report in Section 5 the report notes "the overall reduction in growth and the slowing of growth in the metropolitan fringe areas (may) mean a reduction in pressure on environmental resources, such as habitat areas, good agricultural land and catchment areas"
The overall reduction in planned growth is only 4% with increases in the planned growth in Brisbane of 11.8% and decreases in the planned growth on the coastal strip of 5-6%. Overall the population is still planned to grow by 36%. A number of environmental resources are also experiencing a growth in their per capita usage. To be sustainable we assume that the decrease in total environmental impacts must be greater than the projected growth. This sets a criteria for assessing the strategic impacts of the PPF. We have to ask are there measures in place which will reduce environmental impacts by 40% or more.
From 1994 to 1997 bushland clearing rates doubled under the impacts of population growth. There is no region wide system of State of Environment Reporting. There are no definitions of limits of acceptable change for a wide range of environmental parameters. Catchment protection measures and standards are yet to be defined, financed or implemented.
Waste minimisation has hardly commenced in the region. Most available environmental information ,with the exception of some air quality indicators, shows that the condition is trending down and pressures are growing overall. This quite clearly indicates that the overall preferred pattern of development and population planning figures are not ecologically sustainable.
Furthermore, in Section 7 the PPF report notes "it is not practical to directly apply the RFGM principles to the projections to produce population planning figures for individual local governments or to effectively review figures produced by individual councils in relation to RFGM principles."
So how were the local government population planning figures produced ?
What Can Be Done ?
TABLE TWO Population Figures and Selected Impacts by Local Government (>90k)
TABLE ONE: Summary of Selected Impacts of SEQ Projected Population Growth
We would have an EXTRA :
2500 ha/yr of bushland clearing at least
40 Regional Ecosystems moving to "Of Concern" status
48 000 ML of wastewater costing $128.6 Million/yr to treat
$268 Million/yr in Health costs from air pollution
$527 Million for sewer overflow abatement
231,000 t/yr of sediments in waterways
1 600 t/yr of Nitrogen in waterways
12,000-30,000 t/yr of VOC in the airshed
17,000-25,000 t/yr of Nitrous Oxides in the airshed
1,500-7300 t/yr of Sulphur dioxide in the airshed
69,000-141,000 t/yr of Carbon monoxide in the airshed
1500-7800 t/yr of PM10 in the airshed
$1,740 Million in unfunded infrastructure costs
$940 Million for job creation
10 fold increase in extraction of Sand&Gravel from Bay (1.3 Mt/yr) and hardrock (6.3 Mt/yr)