PRESENTATION BY IAN HITCHCOCK – MR18/003 – WHARF ROAD
Good morning Madam Mayor, Councillors, and staff.
My name is Ian Hitchcock. I am the Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator for the NSW Coastal Alliance.
I am here today to speak on Mayoral Report MR18/003 – Wharf Road, that announces Minister Upton’s approval of the Wharf Road Coastal Zone Management Plan.
In that plan, Council endorsed the use of E2 environmental zoning, to sterilise development land on Wharf Road.
It endorsed the Coastal Panel’s declaration that inundated lands along Wharf Road would be forfeited to the State.
And to top it off, Council made a submission to Roads and Maritime, to build a sea wall and reclaim the subdivision for its own use, when the land was back in public hands.
Did councillors make a conscious decision to strip the Wharf Road owners of their land and property rights? Was it your decision to buy the land back at bargain prices, and reclaim it for Council’s own use?
Council claims to have given the Wharf Road owners every opportunity to present mitigation options, before it moved to have the area declared a coastal hot spot. I put it to you that those opportunities were insincere. Speak to some of the owners, and you will find that they were required to spend large amounts of money on planning and engineering consultants with little or no offer of Council support, and little hope of approval.
I congratulate the Mayor for stepping in and trying to “calm the herd” on the Wharf Road and Surfside coastal management issues, but fear that it might be, too little - too late.
You have set a precedent for the down zoning of coastal land, and expropriation of inundated land without compensation. OEH and the Coastal Panel will not give up these ideological gains without a fight.
If you are serious about giving the Wharf Road owners the opportunity of reclaiming their land, and in one case saving a home, I suggest that you find out first whether the Minister, and the OEH, will consider an application for a reclamation plan to replace the current CZMP. Before committing the owners to more expense, you should at least ask for:
An assurance from the Office of Environment and Heritage that the study will be taken seriously, and that any practical reclamation/mitigation recommendations, supported by Council, will be accepted by the Department, and;
An assurance from the Minister, that she is prepared to overturn the new CZMP, and accept a revised defensive plan, if it is supported by Council.
If recognition of a further study is rejected by the OEH and/or the Minister, then you should be fighting for FULL compensation for the owners. Your plan to buy-back foreshore land at sterilised values is an insult to the affected ratepayers.
It should also be recognised that Council’s tendering of coastal management consultancies, consultancy briefs, and the selection of consultants, leaves a lot to be desired.
I won’t go into detail here, but there are flaws in the briefs provided by Council on the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program, and great concern about the appointment of a consultant who publicly challenged Surfside’s right to exist.
If a group of Wharf Road owners is prepared to put up 50% of the study costs, it is only fair that they are given the right to full participation in the project.
Here I suggest that the mayor changes her recommendations in the mayoral minute to include participation of the Wharf Road owners group in:
The preparation of the technical brief for the study.
The short listing and selection of suitable tenderers, and;
The selection and appointment of the preferred consultant.
Councillors should also be aware that the Sethi report on the erosion of Wharf Road, the Surfside spit, and the northern sand shoals, is critical to any future studies on the Clyde estuary.
I understand that you are meeting with Mr Sethi, and the Surfside Engineers Group, after this meeting. Please take careful note of the Sethi findings, and their implications for the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program.
There WERE two very distinct bays forming Batemans Bay in the nineteen sixties and early seventies. The inner bay, and the outer bay. The sand bars that formed the inner bay, and protected Wharf Road and Surfside, did not disappear through an act of nature. You don’t need to be a coastal engineer to understand that the old Surfside spit is now under a football field and playing grounds at Corrigans reserve. Unsurprisingly, the growth of Corrigans Beach by 300 metres coincided with the sea wall works and extension, on the southern bank of the Clyde estuary. It was this erosion that exposed the Wharf Road subdivision to the destructive forces of the open sea.
This environmental damage must be repaired at government expense.
Thank you for your time.
Prepared and presented by:
Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator
NSW Coastal Alliance