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Councillors Called On To Back Mayor’s “No Planned Retreat” Assurance

Eurobodalla Coast Alliance President Russell Schneider AM has urged Eurobodalla Shire Councillors to commit to defensive measures rather than property abandonment If sea levels rise.

And the Council has been challenged to withdraw “draconian” requirements in Development Approvals issued since at least 2013.

This follows his presentation to Council after which Mayor Liz Innes said currently Council had no “planned retreat” policy.

But Council Development Approvals issued in 2013 not only imposed draconian conditions on developments at Surfside but also used the term “managed retreat”.

Mr Schneider said there was no difference between “managed” or “planned” retreat. “Either or both represent a policy of abandoning ratepayer owned Council assets and forcing property owners to not just leave their homes but return them to their previous state including “vegetating to Council satisfaction”

“If the property is to be covered by seawater what’s the point in paying for it to be returned to a previous state ?” he asked.

“It’s typical of the woolly thinking that surrounds the whole coastal management issue.”

Mr Schneider said that if Council resources were insufficient to fund defensive measures it should strongly press the State Government to provide the necessary money.

Mr Schneider wrote to Mayor Innes as follows:

Dear Ms Innes

I am writing to thank you for your courtesy during my presentation re coastal management on Tuesday 27 February and your public assurance that Council currently has no “planned retreat” policy and that residents of Surfside have been able to apply for permission to develop engineering solutions to defend their properties.

Although this may be the current position the Development Approvals I quoted quite clearly show “planned retreat” (although it used the term “managed retreat”), was in force during 2013 and 2015, under previous Council administrations. Attached is the relevant section of the 2013 DA.

If the policy no longer exists the residents have asked me to request you arrange for Council officers to withdraw the conditions requiring residents to abandon their properties and return the land to its original state, and would be grateful for your advice that this has been done.

As well it would assist if Council officers would ensure that any conveyancing searchers are advised that these conditions have been removed, and the Titles Office advised the covenants required to be registered on land titles no longer apply.

Once again many thanks for your assistance. With a view to ensuring unanimous support for the “no managed retreat” position within the Council I am writing to your fellow Councillors in similar terms and trust they will confirm to their electors that they prefer defensive and mitigation options, and have attached a copy of that letter for your information.”

In a second letter to Councillors, Mr Schneider said;

“I refer to my recent presentation to Council expressing residents’ concern that Council had adopted a policy of abandonment of coastal properties in the event of sea level rise.

I also refer to Mayor Innes’ public reassurance that the Council does not currently have a policy of “planned” (or “managed” retreat as it is also called) retreat.

Residents of Surfside and other low lying areas within Eurobodalla are, however, alarmed at provisions within Development Approvals which indicate Council would not defend its own (ratepayers’) assets and, in fact, refers to “managed retreat” and imposes draconian conditions on development. (see attachments)

The residents have therefore asked me to seek your personal assurance that you do not support “managed retreat” by whatever name and would opt for defence and mitigation options, and that if these are beyond Council’s own resources would press vigorously for the State Government to provide necessary funding for such projects.

The residents also request that you either move or support a motion requiring removal of any conditions related to “managed retreat” arrangements from existing DA’s and ensure that conveyancing inquirers are informed that the Council no longer imposes such a policy.

I can assure you ECA and worried residents would strongly support any such commitment, and they have requested me to will be provide them with copies of your response.


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