PORT Fairy is among the most vulnerable areas in south-west Victoria to inundation by 2040, a new Victorian government report says.
The Assessment of the Values of Victoria's Marine Environment released in May stated the town was among the most susceptible to flooding by a 20-centimetre sea level rise in the next 20 years, as well as areas around Portland.
The report comes as the Insurance Council of Australia's head of risk and operations Karl Sullivan calls on local government to make long-term plans to protect properties against sea level rise, with no insurance currently available for gradual inundation.
"The gradual rising of the sea, that's not covered. Insurances operate on a 12 month basis. If you were looking to offset your risks over something that might happen in the next 40 years, that's a very different type of insurance," Mr Sullivan said.
"So we are encouraging local governments to get their planning now, and communicating with residents who might lose their land in the future, so they can make the economic adjustments they need to."
Moyne Shire Council chief executive Bill Millard said the council had shown leadership in understanding the impact of sea level rise and identified East Beach and South Beach as areas of immediate risk.
The council in 2013 adopted a maximum sea level rise of 1.2 metres by 2100, while council reports also predict a 40-centimetre rise by 2050 and 80 centimetres by 2080.
"The most recent works have been carried out near the surf club and Bourne Avenue. The rock walls have been designed to cope with rising seas until the end of the century, but if sea levels rise more quickly, the height of the walls can be increased," Mr Millard said.
Councillor Jill Parker said sea level rise had been a consideration in the council's plans for as long as she had been on council.
"Any asset council puts down has to have a long-term maintenance plan," she said.
Cr Parker, who is also executive of the Australian Coastal Council Association, will meet with federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley next week and lobby for all coastal councils to receive funding to manage climate change.
Cr Jordan Lockett said while the council showed leadership preparing for climate change, it also needed strong support from other levels of government.
"The Moyne River on a high ride is already almost dangerous, the effects aren't some distant thing, it's occurring before our very eyes. It needs bipartisan support at federal and state level," Cr Lockett said. "We would have to erase roads that I know Port Fairy people wouldn't want done. Because it would change the fabric of our landscape."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.