One hundred and thirty-five Surfside residents attended a community meeting on Saturday 10th March to discuss the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program (CMP). The biggest concern expressed by attendees was the identification of lower Surfside in its entirety as a coastal vulnerability area, and the effect this classification will have on future property values and freedom to develop or redevelop properties in that location.
The meeting opened with local resident Rosemary Deadman accusing council of “spin doctoring”. Council staff made no attempt to participate in the meeting, but delivered a flyer, and sent out a follow up brochure to all affected residents, making reference to the community meeting.
According to Mrs Deadman, the information provided by Council was “typical council spin” where the facts were manipulated, or only half of the story told. Examples given included Council congratulating themselves on a West Surfside beach nourishment exercise that was an unmitigated disaster, and telling Surfside folk that their house values were on the move upwards when at 4.3% they are 8% below the shire average and 16% below the increases recorded in less vulnerable locations, over the past 12 months. Council claimed to be “actively planning for Surfside’s future in conjunction with land owners and residents” when only a handful of waterfront owners were ever invited to participate in Council’s consultation process.
Viv Sethi, a retired engineer, and credited with a report which proves that the erosion of the Surfside spit and northern sand shoal was man-made and a state government responsibility, explained the adverse effects that the vulnerable area classification would have on lower Surfside properties. Mr Sethi demonstrated that despite its denials, Council was party to a state government plan to apply “planned” or “managed” retreat policies to lower Surfside. He pointed out that Council has been placing a notation on Surfside development application (DA) approvals since 2013 that states, “there is no commitment or intention by Council to improve or maintain infrastructure should this site be impacted by sea level rise”.
Above Council is very clear in its clear statement contained in Development Applications as per the example above (2015) “there is no commitment or intention by Council to improve or maintain infrastructure should this site be impacted by sea level rise”. Mr Sethi advocated engineering solutions to resolve current and future sea level rise and coastal hazard issues that Surfside, and a swag of other NSW coastal towns and suburbs, might face. And, he wants to see the NSW government foot the entire bill in the case of Surfside.
Ian Hitchcock, the regional convenor of the NSW Coastal Alliance (NCA), and Russell Schneider the president of the Eurobodalla Coast Alliance (ECA) encouraged Surfside residents to stand up for their property rights and make their voices heard in Vulcan Street, Moruya and Macquarie Street in Sydney. Ex-Eurobodalla Councillor Milton Leslight provided real estate data showing how poorly lower Surfside was performing in comparison to other centres in and outside of the Eurobodalla.
No councillors or state or federal politicians attended the meeting, but Mayor Liz Innes did send her apologies. The mayor has promised to deliver defensive planning and mitigation solutions to Surfside residents. None of the other Eurobodalla councillors have shown any interest in the CMP or their Surfside constituents.
Four resolutions were passed unanimously by the meeting and these were:
1. To form a special “Save Surfside Committee” to participate in the coastal management (CMP) process, and to develop a defence strategy and adaptation plan for Surfside 2. Request Council to withdraw the current CMP until:
The new Act is proclaimed and legal.
Stage two is reviewed and revised to include findings in the Sethi report, and;
Impartial consultants are engaged to complete the stage three mitigation planning.
3. Request Council to negotiate with the state government to fully fund the remedial works needed to rectify the Surfside erosion and shoreline damage caused by dredging and past public works.
4. Request Council to remove the notation on DA’s indicating that Council has no intention of maintaining critical infrastructure in sea level rise affected areas.
It was recorded that residents of other vulnerable beach areas like Hanging Rock and parts of Catalina, were welcome to join the Surfside movement.
Released by NCA Eurobodalla,
Authorised by Ian Hitchcock
NCA Regional Coordinator