Last week, the state government proclaimed its Coastal Management Act 2016, accompanied by a new Coastal Management SEPP 2018. The new Act and SEPP have been described as another greyhound bus that will run right over the Berejiklian government.
Under the Act, upwards of 150,000 NSW homes will be designated at risk of coastal hazards, including 6,000 homes in the Eurobodalla. Their location in a declared “coastal vulnerability area” will leave the future of these properties at the mercy of local planners and an all-powerful Coastal Council. In the Eurobodalla, these are the same planners who gave us the destructive interim sea level rise policy.
The Coastal Council is no more than a duplication of the current Coastal Panel with far more power. It comprises a number of the old Panel members. These are the same “experts” who supported the use of environmental “E” zones to sterilise property values in Wharf Road. They are also the same experts who declared land affected by tidal inundation, automatically forfeited to the State, without compensation or any attempt at reclamation.
Amendments were made to the original SEPP 2016 that appeared to remove the most offensive aspects of the legislation. Time limited occupation of vulnerable sites, a requirement for temporary or removable structures, and waterfront boundary realignments no longer appear. But the offensive provisions have not been removed. Instead they have been cunningly hidden in the operational manual that forms part of the Act.
It is apparent that Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and her Office of Heritage and Environment have no intention of supporting any concept of defensive coastal management. “Planned retreat”, or surrender to the sea, will now be the order of the day, and the value of properties in areas designated “vulnerable to coastal hazards” will plummet. Watch the effects of the retreat policy recently applied by Wollongong Council.
An official press release from the NSW Coastal Alliance is expected shortly.
Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator
NSW Coastal Alliance