Mayor Denies “Planned Retreat” Policy, But Fails To Convince Surfside Residents Of Genuine Development Or Redevelopment Options
Firstly, DEFINITIONS the average reader may find useful.
PLANNED or MANAGED RETREAT is climate change jargon for the surrender of private property and public infrastructure to rising seas and coastal erosion, without compensation or any attempt to mitigate the problem.
TIME LIMITED CONSENT is a development approval conditional upon the property owner agreeing to remove buildings /infrastructure at his/her expense when an agreed sea level rise/inundation trigger is reached.
Eurobodalla Coast Alliance president Russell Schneider AM wrote to the mayor and councillors, and spoke in chambers on the application of highly punitive PLANNED RETREAT and TIME LIMITED DEVELOPMENT provisions in lower Surfside. The mayor’s response, or should I say the response prepared by Council staff for the mayor, is an insult to the intelligence of Surfside residents.
There is no need to read the three pages of drivel in the mayor’s reply. Quite simply, she is saying that the ESC does not have a policy of “PLANNED RETREAT”. In Council’s view development proponents in coastal hazard areas are offered three different options.
OPTION ONE – “AVOID” - locate the building outside of the hazard area.
How many blocks of land in lower surfside offer the option of building on a higher section of the lot? Get real planners. You have designated lower Surfside in its entirety as a hazard area and your option one is a “furphy”.
OPTION TWO – “MITIGATE” - construct appropriately designed works to protect the property from coastal hazards.
Simple stuff. If you are not on the waterfront, apply to build a sea wall in lieu of a front fence. If you are on the front line get an engineer to design a sea wall that Council will tell you it is unacceptable because it could adversely affect beach usage or your neighbour’s property. Get your neighbours together and design a communal sea wall and it will be referred to the NSW Coastal Panel for endorsement. Professor Bruce Thom and his Coastal Panel will tell you that it is government policy to return the coastline to the public, and your application will be rejected. Surfside residents have already been told by Panel member Andrew Short that their suburb should not exist, and anyone agreeing to redevelopment in the suburb is guilty of a breach of their duty of care. In other words, Short believes that Council is guilty of negligence if it approves a redevelopment application in Surfside, let alone a protective sea wall.
OPTION THREE – PLANNED RETREAT - build structures that can be relocated or disassembled when the threat from a hazard compromises the building.
Does the mayor really believe that Surfside residents are being given three options for development? Options one and two are nothing but “red herrings”, and residents have the choice of PLANNED RETREAT with a LIMITED TIME CONSENT condition, or nothing at all.
The mayor is not going to win any friends or Surfside votes with this type of misinformation and subterfuge. The mayor and council planners know only too well that the future of Surfside relies on suburb wide mitigation planning and defensive engineering works. The mayor has already promised mitigation and defensive solutions in stage three of the Coastal Management Program, but where is the action?
It is time for Council to accept the findings of the Sethi report, and get on with the job of restoring Surfside’s natural protection. The development of mitigation and adaptation plans should be a Council priority to get the “sea level rise monkey” off this community’s back.
Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator
NSW Coastal Alliance