The revelation regarding Council’s planned protection and usage of the old Wharf Road subdivision to provide an access road for the new bridge, (Beagle Weekly News -A Tale of Council Jumping the Gun –Again - October 15 2017)) is a further example of ESC and NSW State Government’s double standards.
A thirty year old fight by owners of the old Wharf Road subdivision to save their properties, culminated in a Coastal Zone Management Plan being endorsed by the Eurobodalla Shire Council on the 23rd May 2017. The Coastal Zone Management Plan proposes the buy- back of the foreshore land unaffected by coastal erosion, that Council has already re- zoned to E2 ( Environmental Protection). This E2 zoning prohibits future development and renders the land worthless. Current valuations on which the buy- back offers will be based, will be a fraction of the original commercial value of the land.
As for the inundated lands, Council endorsed the declaration of the NSW Coastal Panel that submerged and semi-submerged land at Wharf Road had been forfeited to the Crown, even though there is strong evidence to suggest that Council and the State Government caused the erosion in the first place. Council removed the reference to the land forfeiture in the final CZMP document, but left the W1 (natural waterway) zoning that confirms the State and Local Government’s resolve to expropriate this land without compensation.
Council staff built up a plausible story to support their CZMP and policy of “planned retreat” for the old subdivision. This climate change “hotspot” was too “high risk” to be considered for any development. The adverse impacts of a sea wall were not compatible with State coastal policy. It was critical to return this land to the public to provide public beach access. It was not feasible to design a sea wall alignment that would guarantee the continuance of a permanent beach along that foreshore. The mayor, Cr. Liz Innes, even called the author of this release to say that Council could not agree to a rock wall to reinstate the old Wharf Road subdivision because of the visual ugliness when viewed from the town centre.
Now, on the 1st September 2017, just three months after Council endorsed the Wharf Road CZMP, and before the Plan has been approved by the Minister, Council has prepared a submission to NSW Roads and Maritime on their preferred options for the proposed Batemans Bay Bridge. That submission includes a section on Wharf Road access.
Believe it or not the submission proposes that after the Wharf Road land is back in public ownership:
A 450-500 metre section of rock wall is designed and constructed at the site of the of old Wharf Road subdivision.
The rock wall is backfilled.
A new landform alignment is designed and constructed for Wharf Road.
Read it yourself at:
For thirty years this Council has rejected defensive solutions to resurrect and protect the old Wharf Road subdivision. Now that Council wants the site for its own operational purposes, the previously insurmountable problems have turned into a positive solution to a bridge access problem.
This Council has been guilty of double dealing in the past, but this is a blatant example of climate change impediments disappearing overnight because it suits Council purposes.
There are processes whereby councils and the State Government can resume land for operational purposes. Most importantly, the land owners must have the right to fair and reasonable compensation. This protection is afforded by the NSW Land Acquisition Just Terms Compensation Act 1991. In this case however, Council and the State Government have misused environmental protection legislation to decimate property values before implementing their buy-back plan.
If your Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage are prepared to stoop this low to avoid paying reasonable compensation for coastal land they wish to procure or sterilise, what hope is there for the owners of the one thousand properties designated “at risk of coastal erosion and/or tidal inundation” under the new Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program. And, let’s not forget the 5,000 estuary dwellers who will face similar problems when their flood prone land is given similar “at risk” status under the new Coastal Management Act.
It is time the elected councillors who voted for the Wharf Road CZMP, and local member Andrew Constance, provided some answers on this CZMP and the numerous other coastal management issues currently plaguing the Eurobodalla.
Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator
NSW Coastal Alliance