Council requested to defer costly and premature CMP exercise

Dear Beagle Editor,

Earlier in the week, I received an unsolicited email from Mr Hitchenson in Council’s planning department.

I wrote to Mayor Innes and the councillors: Dear Mayor,

Your planning people have jumped the gun and proceeded with a Coastal Management Program (CMP) before the relevant legislation has been passed into law. There are no excuses, and your council should not be committing ratepayer funds on unauthorised programs on the basis of “reasonable certainty’ that the Act and critical SEPP will be endorsed by the NSW parliament.

How are you saving the ratepayer money by anticipating proclamation of the proposed Coastal Management Act?

As Mr Hitchenson points out, you are not required to submit the CMP under the proposed legislation until December 2021, four years from now.

Why would a Council that is declaring over 25% of its rateable properties, (coastal and estuarine), vulnerable to coastal hazards, want to “lead the pack” in vulnerable area classifications. Wouldn’t it make more sense to sit back and see how the larger shires like the Central Coast, with 60,000 affected properties, react and respond to the legislation. The Eurobodalla is already suffering an economic malaise, and I can assure you that vulnerable area zonings in areas that include your major CBD’s, will not assist the local economy.

Council does not seem to realise that a vulnerable area zoning under the proposed Act/SEPP will place the onus on the property owner to justify anything other than transportable buildings or time limited development. Given the risk averse stance of your bureaucrats and the attitude of the OEH, I can see the Eurobodalla foreshore turning into a trailer park.

As for the assurances of your Council that mitigation options will be examined in stage 3 of the program, let me remind you that there is still no sign of the promised funding for stage 3 of the estuary management plans. You are required to identify funding for any mitigation plans proposed in your CMP, yet you have no available budget or promise of grant funding. Are these “promises like pie crusts”. Please define solutions that are “feasible, affordable, and acceptable”, and tell us what council is prepared to spend.

You may not be aware that the NSW Coastal Panel, that guided your Wharf Road CZMP, is showing reluctance in approving defensive coastal works in Byron, Collaroy, Newcastle and the Central Coast. I am not aware of a bean of the $87million in coastal management funding being spent on remedial /mitigation works. It is being wasted on administration like the myriad of coastal studies your council has commissioned with OEH support.

In closing I ask how you expect this community to trust your planning department to prepare a CMP after the Wharf Road debacle. Inundated land expropriation without compensation, E-zoning of the remaining foreshore land to prevent development, a planned buy-back at sterilised land value, and to top it off, a plan to reclaim the old subdivision for council purposes when it is “back in public hands”.

Can I suggest that Council defers this CMP exercise until other larger shires have led the way and set the precedents, and that your planning department concentrates its efforts on finding solutions to the Clyde estuary/Surfside erosion issue, and a new plan for Wharf Road that restores the property rights of the rightful owners. I have forwarded this letter to the Mayor, councillors and the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance.

Kind regards

Ian Hitchcock

Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator

NSW Coastal Alliance