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"Like Lambs To The Slaughter”

Dear Beagle Editor,

Last week, (Monday 9th &Tuesday 10th October), I had the dubious pleasure of representing client owners at Council’s coastal hazard meetings arranged for residents potentially affected by beach erosion at Long Beach and Surfside.

The meetings could only be described as “bureaucratic spin”. It was evident at Monday’s meeting that few of the Long Beach attendees knew what was going on, and the organisers had no intention of educating them on the real effects that the Coastal Management Program (CMP) could have on their properties. At Tuesday’s meeting, Surfside residents were more informed and questioning was more intense, but the organisers were equally evasive.

Council and its paid consultants were trying to “soft sell” a report that puts over 1,000 Eurobodalla properties into a coastal hazard risk category. In time, this label will turn into a “vulnerable area” rating under the new NSW Coastal Management Act, and the properties will be labelled high insurance risks. Banks and other financial institutions, are already reluctant to finance” at risk” and uninsurable properties.

As a professional real estate agent I can tell the affected owners that when this report is turned into a CMP, their properties will become a depreciating asset. There will always be buyers for beachside properties, but these buyers will expect huge discounts to compensate for the assumed risk and expected loss of future capital gains.

If you believe the spin that this is only stage one of the CMP, and “defensive” plans will be developed later down the track, think again. Your Council has just submitted a management plan to the responsible Minister in relation to the old Wharf Road subdivision. Rock walls are out and “planned retreat” is in. As with Wharf Road, Council will determine that the expenditure needed to protect your property is not in the public interest, and you will be prevented under the Act from taking any defensive action yourself.

The irony is that many of the affected properties, particularly in Surfside (including Wharf Road), have been placed at extreme risk by Council and State Government dredging and engineering works (sea walls) on the southern side of the Clyde estuary. It is my opinion that Council has deliberately ignored the erosion issue, and the extent of man -made damage to the sand bars that once protected Surfside. It has not been addressed in the UNSW study because of the compensation claims that Council and the State Government could face, if their past negligence is exposed.

By precluding the erosion and environmental damage issues from the study, the responsible Council staff have not acted in “good faith”. The same applies to any councillors who might approve this study and CMP in full knowledge that it ignores a key factor in the “at risk’ status of many of these properties.

Now might be the time for councillors and staff to ask whether they will be protected from future legal action under the provisions of the Local Government Act. Imagine the damages bill when the properties denuded of their protective sand bars are hit by another 1974 size “super storm”.

Milton Leslight

Batemans Bay Editors note: In regards to the comment above "Rock walls are out and “planned retreat” is in. As with Wharf Road, Council will determine that the expenditure needed to protect your property is not in the public interest, and you will be prevented under the Act from taking any defensive action yourself" Eurobodalla Council have all but endorsed their support in their Batemans Bay Bridge submission for a 400m to 500m rockwall being built to "mitigate against coastal erosion" to safeguard an asset. Further reading in regards to the fact that the Council is pushing a head with a "Coastal Management Plan" that has not been approved by State Government yet is being prematurely "rolled out" (at considerable ratepayer expense) in the Eurobodalla can be found HERE

#Opinion #BatemansBay #LongBeach #Council #LocalStateFederal

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