At today's Council meeting Ian Hitchcock was barred from from speaking as staff claimed not to have received his request to speak. In decency the Mayoress distributed his presentation and gave councillors 5 minutes to read it before the motion was discussed.
Councillor Phil Constable asked a few questions, but withdrew his motion for a deferral of a decision on the Wharf Road issue after Lindsay Usher convinced them that Council was working in the interests of the affected land holders. Wharf Road "mark three" now goes back to the Minister for approval, and if signed off, the precedents for planned retreat, "E" zoning to effect land sterilisation, and the forfeiture of inundated land to the State, will be established. For the benefit of Beagle readers the following is the submission that would have been made to the Councillors and become part of the Video record of the meeting where Councillors might well have had the opportunity to ask further questions. As anticipated, Council has removed the reference to the supposed forfeiture of inundated land along Wharf Road. The amended plan does not offer a solution. It simply removes the reference to the Coastal Panel's previous advice. So the Coastal Panel's legal view on the forfeiture of the land remains unchanged, but Council is no longer the bearer of the bad news. This is a prime example of trying to close the gate after the horse has bolted. Here is Ian Hitchcock's presentation that he didn't get to present and that he didn't receive questions on. Council presentation -Wharf Road CZMP My name is Ian Hitchcock. I am the Eurobodalla regional coordinator for the NSW coastal alliance.I am here today to speak on agenda item PSR17/025 – amendment to the Wharf Road coastal management plan. I wonder how many councillors have read and fully digested the Wharf f Road document.How many of you understand the coastal management planning principles, that you have supported in the lead up to this “mark three” version of the plan?Firstly, you have supported a principle of “planned retreat”, where engineered mitigation plans have been rejected out of hand. You have instead backed a plan that promotes nature taking its course, without any serious evaluation of the alternatives. I should add that in the case of the Wharf Road erosion, nature was greatly assisted by poorly planned coastal works, and indiscriminate dredging that removed the natural protection.Secondly, you have supported the use of New South Wale’s highest non -national park environmental protection zone (E2), to sterilise the development potential of urban residential land. You have ignored the fact that Wharf Road fails to meet any of the criteria specified for this level of environmental protection. Thirdly, you have supported the New South Wales coastal panel’s decision that the title to submerged land along Wharf Road, has been automatically forfeited to the state.This latest rendition of the plan may remove reference to the coastal panel’s legal advice, but it is too late to get the state government off the hook. The government’s intention to expropriate lands affected by tidal inundation, without compensation, is now in the public arena.I would describe this revised CZMP as a ‘do nothing’ proposition, that reflects poorly on the council, and does nothing for those ratepayers caught up in the debacle. It obliges these dispossessed Wharf Road owners to use their own resources to fight the ‘untouchable” government office of heritage and environment, whose staff are the real authors of this plan, and the authors of the related ministerial correspondence.How many councillors have considered and assessed the fallout their support of this CZMP will have for other low lying areas in the shire? Remember that Wharf Road is in an estuary, and any precedents you set here, could affect all other estuary dwellers in the shire. If council’s adopted sea level rise predictions are correct, the Batemans Bay CBD and the Narooma flat will be inundated through sea level rise, in the not too distant future. Your sea level rise policy tells us that without a serious mitigation plan, these two centres are doomed.When the time comes for decisions in these areas; • Will council reject a mitigation plan for Batemans Bay and Narooma, because financial benefits might accrue to the property owners - as it has done in Wharf Road? • Will council support the rezoning of any land exposed to coastal hazards to E2, so that the development potential can be sterilised? – as it has done in Wharf Road? • Will council inform the owners that if their land becomes inundated, ownership will automatically revert to the state without any compensation? – as the coastal panel has done in Wharf Road.The same questions might be asked by the owners of low lying residential properties in Dalmeny, Tuross, Moruya, Tomakin, Surfside east, Long Beach and Maloneys. Some of you will say that it could never happen, but I recall government minister Brad Hazzard claiming that the system would never allow environmental planning zones to be misused. The CZMP notes that the Wharf Road subdivision could be reinstated with a four metre (AHD) revetment wall, and beach nourishment, at a cost of 1.6 million dollars, or just $38,000 per site. These remedial costs are not unreasonable, and like me, you might ask why Wharf Road needs an initial 4 metre revetment wall when the 1.7 to 2.2 metre wall on the town side of the inlet, is considered adequate at this time. Despite claims of intense consultation, council did not even approach the Wharf Road owners for their views on, or willingness to contribute to, a remedial action plan.I have listened to the argument that Surfside residents want the Wharf Road beachfront returned to the community, in accordance with government coastal management policy. I have heard that residents and tourists alike do not want to look at an ugly sea wall from the town centre. I can tell you that any policy that attempts to expropriate torrens title residential land, without proper compensation, will eventually incur the wrath of the entire community. If council’s adopted sea level rise predictions are correct, the community had better get used to the visual appearance of protective sea walls.A vote for this revised CZMP, is a vote for “planned retreat” and erosion of the property rights of Eurobodalla ratepayers. The precedents, when full details are released to the public, will have far reaching effects on the economy of the shire, and act as a further deterrent to investors and developers.The decision is yours.
The handicap of deafness is not in the ear; it is in the mind. Marlee Matlin