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What a conundrum!


What a conundrum!

Once again the Eurobodalla Shire Council has stamped its “Green” credentials on a piece of coastal management legislation.

It has prepared a special CZMP for Wharf Road North Batemans Bay in close consultation with Planning Minister Rob Stokes’ esteemed Coastal Panel, and their mates in the Office of Heritage and Environment. This CZMP has three of the elements that the NSW Coastal Alliance has been warning coastal residents to expect from Rob Stoke's new Coastal Management Act.

The owners of land eroded by the sea (as a result of sea wall construction activity in the estuary) are to automatically lose their land title to the State Government – NO COMPENSATION.

Waterfront land above the high water mark has been zoned E2, one of the highest environmental zonings in the State. This zoning has not been used to protect land of special environmental significance. It is suggested that it has been deviously used to PREVENT THE OWNERS FROM EXERCISING THEIR DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS.

Finally, the CZMP promotes the concept of “planned retreat” whereby NO DEFENSIVE OPTIONS HAVE BEEN PRESENTED. No action will be taken to protect the receding foreshore, and if Council's adopted sea level rise predictions are correct, the sea will be allowed to reclaim that foreshore and the established residential area behind.

On the other hand, Council has approved a very large unit development on Wharf Road that is currently under construction. How can they decide to apply the principles of “planned retreat” and then allow a major construction that is clearly at risk, because Council will do nothing to protect the area from real and perceived coastal hazards?

Another example of council’s suspected abuse of power is the fact that they have arbitrarily chosen to classify Surfside as an ‘open beach’ instead of being within the ‘estuary’. This increased the supposed threat of sea level rise and has enabled the labelling of Wharf Road as a ‘Hot Spot’ and captured the whole of Surfside in ‘Vulnerable Area’ mapping. However, when it suited them in 2012, they used the fact that OEH defined the sandbar as the start of the estuary (i.e. Surfside is within the estuary) in order to carry out dredging of the sandbar against the wishes of local residents.

The double standards continue when one considers the fact the CBD, with a breakwall height of 1.7m to 2.2m is exempt from the policy while on the other side of the river a 4m AHD ‘vulnerable’ zone applies and Wharf Road (1.5m to 2.0m) is deemed to be a ‘hot spot’ and Surfside (2.5m to 3.0m) is deemed to be ‘vulnerable’

Added to this, Council’s D/A records show DA 659/16 being issued on 1/11/2016 approving the construction of a dwelling on one of the partly submerged lots (with an E2 zoning and development prohibition) in the seriously erosion affected area of Wharf Road.

The NSW Coastal Panel, that will become the Coastal Council under Stokes’ new Coastal Management Act, will assume a key role in the approval process and auditing of coastal defences. This Panel is up to its ears in this Wharf Road debacle. It, and the Minister, have praised Council for its use of the E2 environmental zoning, and it was the Coastal Panel that told Council that the submerged lands were automatically forfeited to the Crown.

Is this the type of organisation we want in control of the destiny of the urban sections of the NSW coastline?

I am a long time Liberal voter who is disgusted with the Baird Government’s adoption of the “Greens” coastal management policies. Labor won’t fix this up, so many coastal residents will be looking towards Pauline or the Shooters and Fishers at the next NSW election.

Viv Sethi


#Opinion #latest

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