To the Beagle Editor
Wharf Road Coastal Management Plan – E-Zoning
In 2011 the Eurobodalla rural community was punished with the application of environmental protection or “E” zones. The community rallied behind Councillor Liz Innes, now the incumbent mayor, and a Rural Lands Committee that scrapped the E3 zoning and developed a rural lands strategy that would benefit of the environment, the rural community, and the local economy.
Many town dwellers also saw the potential for the E- zones to be misused in urban situations, but then Planning Minister Brad Hazzard assured them that their concerns were misplaced. The E -zoning went ahead and included large areas of Eurobodalla’s coastal and urban parkland, that should have been zoned for public recreation.
Most of us were unaware that a section of urban land on the Surfside foreshore in Batemans Bay was also rezoned E2. That section of the Surfside foreshore had no environmental attributes at all. The rezoning action was taken for no other reason than to stop any further development in what was described as an erosion “hot spot”.
Environmental protection zones can be used “to protect coastal foreshores and land that is subject to coastal hazards”, but the OEH practice notes state very clearly that use of the E2 zone must firstly “be supported by an appropriate assessment of the area meeting the zone objectives of high ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values of this zone”. The rezoned Wharf Road property did not meet any of these objectives.
The owners of the Wharf Road land were duped by a Council that appears to be prepared to manipulate any State legislation to accomplish its own agendas.
Beagle readers would have little reason to buy the Bay Post, but have a look at this weeks ‘Domain” if you get a chance. On page 9, you will see three blocks of brand new Wharf Road apartments for sale. At the bottom of that street, the erosion “hot spot” and sterilised land, appears in the same aerial photograph. This new development will soon need protection if Council’s adopted sea level rise projections are accurate, as will Council infrastructure.
It is time for the double standards to end. Wouldn’t it make more sense to build a protective sea wall now, reclaim the old Wharf Road subdivision, and give the local economy a much-needed injection of tourism related development land.
It is time that the local member Andrew Constance reappeared, and explained how his colleague, ex-planning minister Rob Stokes, and his esteemed Coastal Panel, endorsed the E-zoning rort at Wharf Road. At the same time, he might tell us why the Office of Environment and Heritage is still stalling on the rural lands strategy and what he is doing to ensure the proper application of environmental protection zones in the future?