Last week was another big week in the Eurobodalla climate change adaptation and coastal management debate.
On Thursday night at the Batemans Bay public meeting, questions were asked about the application of Council’s sea level rise policies to new infrastructure projects. By its own determination, Council requires the developers of all major infrastructure projects, to allow for a 100 year building/asset life. Mackay Park and the Batemans Bay bridge projects fall into this development category. Council’s climate change provisions require the developer to allow for sea level rise in excess of one metre, but there is no evidence of the southern bridge road access being raised to the required level, or Mackay Park and its environs being raised to cater for future inundation.
When it comes to coastal management, there appears to be one rule for Council and the state government, and another rule for the ratepayer whose interests these government organisations are supposed to be protecting.
Then, in Friday’s Bay Post, Ian Hitchcock, the Regional Coordinator for the NSW Coastal Alliance revealed that a top coastal management adviser to Council and the state government was asking for a REDEVELOPMENT BAN at Surfside. The adviser, who wants to see Surfside returned to the sea, turns out to be a lead consultant to Council in the preparation of the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program. He is an author of the UNSW hazard study, and a key member of the consortium that will undertake the “stage three” mitigation and adaptation planning for Surfside and other areas that the consortium has declared subject to coastal hazards.
If Council and the state government are going to employ advisers and consultants with biased views on the right of some coastal communities to exist, the 1,000 “at risk” ratepayers in Eurobodalla beachside suburbs have nothing to look forward to, except further grief as building restrictions tighten and their properties decline in value.
The Mayor, Liz Innes, has thrown her weight behind defensive solutions for the erosion problems at Wharf Road and Surfside. It is now time for council staff to assist the Mayor by recommending the employment of consultants who have appropriate qualifications, are pragmatic, and do not have preconceived ideas on coastal adaptation planning. Consistency in the application of sea level rise and coastal management policies might also help develop ratepayer confidence in the ability of council staff to stand up to the pressure applied by Sydney based bureaucrats in the Office of Environment and Heritage, and to start working in the interests of their local community.
NSW Coastal Alliance