LETTER TO THE EDITOR,
WHARF ROAD CLIMATE CHANGE “HOT SPOT”, NOW A CREDIBILITY “BLACK SPOT” FOR THE ESC
An article in the 1st November edition of the Bay Post provides Council’s response to my media release on the Wharf Road/ RMS fiasco that is being described as the worst display of council double dealing in the history of this shire.
It would appear that the Council's Planning Director has sidelined the Mayor and elected Councillors to propose the reclamation of the Old Wharf Road subdivision to provide land for a slip road off the new Batemans Bay Bridge. This is only three months after elected councillors put the final nail in the coffins of the Wharf Road owners, endorsing a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) that virtually extinguished their ownership rights.
Now, the Council's Planning Director says that Council has simply identified the need for a rock wall, and that this opportunity was always available to the Wharf Road land owners, but never pursued.
You are right Mr Planning Director. The owners did not submit a D.A for a sea wall, because you and your staff made it very clear that they would be wasting their time and money. As I mentioned in a previous release, even the mayor was parroting your Planning Department’s objections to a rock wall. You are also well aware that the original owners went to great lengths to protect what remained of their properties in the nineteen eighties only to end up in a legal battle with the Environmental Protection Agency. An action that was supported by the ESC.
You have a hide Mr Planning Director to propose the reclamation of the Wharf Road subdivision after it is back in public ownership, and then ridicule the owners for not being as smart as you are in pursuing an option that was never available to them.
It is time to stop the spin. Council owes the Wharf Road property owners a big apology for failing to help them protect and retain their properties in the first place, and then treating them with utter contempt when the opportunity arose for Council to capitalise on the intended buy-back at bargain basement prices.
Mr Planning Director is a senior manager in Council, but when was he delegated to make critical planning decisions of this nature without involving elected councillors? Where is the General Manager who deserves a serious reprimand for allowing this to happen on her watch? Where is the Mayor, who seems to be promoting the new Coastal Management Program (CMP) instead of questioning the effects this document will have on the thousands of Eurobodalla ratepayers in the firing line?
Wharf Road is only part of the Bay Post story. The rest of it relates to the one thousand Eurobodalla residents who in recent weeks have had their properties declared “at risk” of coastal hazards in stage two of this Coastal Management Program. Five thousand estuary dwellers will soon suffer a similar fate.
For five years now I have been fighting for the property rights of the average punter in the Eurobodalla who has his or her future, and the future of his/her family, tied up in a piece of coastal real estate. At my age it doesn’t really matter, but for younger generations, it is important that we do not allow well-intentioned, but ideologically driven bureaucrats to destroy the value of coastal real estate, and the families who have poured their life savings into a coastal home.
In his Bay Post response, Mr Planning Director says that it is important the community understands Council has a legislative requirement to plan for coastal hazards. Mr Planning Director forgot to mention that at this point, the legislation to which he refers has not been passed into legislation. Mr Planning Director and his team are so keen to lead the way in punitive coastal management regulation that they couldn’t even wait for the State Government approval.|
To calm the one thousand home owners, facing financial ruin through the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program, Council is telling them that it has only completed stage two of a five stage project. Stage three is where the action really is in developing strategies to adapt our communities to coastal hazards. This stage has commenced and “Council will work with the community to determine what solutions are preferred. Notwithstanding that any solution must be affordable, with limited environmental and community impacts”.
Well Mr Planning Director, I am calling your bluff. If stage three of the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program (CMP) has commenced, as you claim, the consultants will have been provided with a brief that describes the type of defensive/ mitigation measures they are to examine for the 1,000 affected properties. Produce this brief and Council may regain some coastal management credibility, but it is my assessment that the brief does not exist. Council has no intention of examining the available mitigation options for the 1,000 dispossessed home owners, and there is no funding available for anything except these expensive studies that are costing the ratepayer and taxpayers of NSW hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This Council has been committed to “planned retreat” as the solution to climate change issues and rising seas since 2010, when it released its Interim Sea Level Rise Policy. Nothing has changed since then, and unless the 1,000 “at risk” property owners fight back, they will be another casualty of the climate change debacle that is sending energy prices through the roof, and putting the whole Australian economy “at risk”.
Instead of volunteering the Eurobodalla as the State Government” guinea pig” for coastal management issues, perhaps Council could suggest that the NSW Office of Heritage and Environment test their management schemes on the Vaucluse waterfront, in the electorate of their Minister Ms Gabrielle Upton.
Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator
NSW Coastal Alliance
2nd November 2017