Warning flood risks are being ignored in university’s Inveresk shift
THE University of Tasmania says it is confident engineers will be able to design a new campus capable of withstanding flooding, despite critics of the planned move to Inveresk arguing the risks have not been properly scrutinised.
Retired teacher and academic Chris Penna has published a new report warning buildings at the proposed $260 million Inveresk campus would be more prone to flooding than previously thought because of rainfall increases in projected climate change scenarios.
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Mr Penna said a recent flood mapping report published by the City of Launceston highlighted the risk the campus would face if the South Esk River burst its banks.
“The report indicates that if there was a one-in-200-year flood any time soon, then Inveresk would be flooded to a depth of between 2 and 5 metres and that would be at a hazard class five level … which means there would be significant damage to buildings and that there would be danger to both humans and vehicles,” Mr Penna said.
Mr Penna said buildings in the Inveresk area were also at risk of damage from low magnitude earthquakes off the Tasmanian coast.
Infrastructure Australia is assessing the project’s final business case, which was submitted in late January, but Mr Penna said the body should have become involved earlier in the process.
Money from the state and federal governments would be spent on the move from the existing UTAS campus at Newnham to Inveresk.
The University of Tasmania expects its first development application to be lodged with the council by the end of next month.
“We are confident in the ability of contemporary engineering to design flood-resilient buildings here in Launceston, as is done in cities and towns around the globe,” the university’s Launceston-based Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Dom Geraghty said.
“The challenges we are grappling with here, in a city at the confluence of two rivers, are challenges facing more and more communities around the world as climate change impacts the planet.”
Labor MP for Bass, Ross Hart, said Mr Penna’s report “should be of assistance to the university” but reiterated his support for the move.
“It is not unusual for engineers to deal with difficult sites but it’s something that needs to be addressed,” he said.
The report was commissioned by a group opposed to the Inveresk move.