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NSW Coastal Alliance: Batemans Bay – A Climate Change Coastal Management Test Case

In a media release today the NSW Coastal Alliance have advissed that Batemans Bay will be the first coastal town to experience the full force of the NSW Coastal Management Act, made operational in April 2018. Their media release is as follows:

An enthusiastic band of council planners in the Eurobodalla Shire anticipated the new Act and have already completed Stage Two of a Coastal Management Program (CMP) the latest craze in coastal management and now available under this Act.

Under the new Act, Stage Two CMP planning covers coastal risk assessments. In the case of Batemans Bay, most of the CBD and adjacent foreshore areas from Long Beach to Batehaven, have been categorised as “coastal vulnerability areas”. This covers the town’s commercial precinct, feeder foreshore areas earmarked for future tourism development and prime waterfront properties in the suburbs of Surfside and Long Beach.

Stage three of the CMP is now in preparation. It is this stage that will decide the future of Batemans Bay. Council and the State Government, through the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), can either produce a plan to PROTECT these areas which they identify as vulnerable to future sea level rise (SLR) and coastal storms or to simply ABANDON them, as promoted by Eurobodalla Council with the support of OEH under the command of Minister Gabrielle Upton.

Affected property owners in all NSW coastal communities should be alert to the fact that ABANDONMENT or RETREAT with no compensation is the preferred solution of the OEH and the NSW Coastal Council (previously Coastal Panel).

But as usual, denied by the NSW State Coalition Government!

The OEH has also produced a cost benefit analysis model that ignores the State’s obligation to recognise the compensation provisions of the Australian Constitution while the Coastal Council rejects pragmatic coastal engineering solutions.

The NCA rejects the accuracy and veracity of the OEH cost benefit analysis model demonstrated by its current application in determining management options for Wamberal Beach on the NSW Central Coast. As anticipated, through its cost benefit model, the OEH has determined that the most cost efficient option for over 70 Wamberal Beach properties, is the option of planned retreat with no compensation.

In the next few weeks the Eurobodalla Shire Council will invite affected owners to drop in sessions to discuss the long-term future of their town and their homes. For the information of these ratepayers, and others who may be affected, the NSW Coastal Alliance (NCA) recommended position on the Batemans Bay CMP is stated below:

  1. No planned retreat, managed realignment or time limited development consents for existing developed areas unless all defensive adaptation options have been exhausted.

  2. In those circumstances where existing development cannot be defended, there must be immediate “just terms compensation” at the time property is deemed indefensible.

  3. The NSW State Coalition Government must recognise its contribution to world carbon dioxide emissions through its agreement to the mining and export of NSW coal. The NSW State Government must therefore provide public funding for defensive adaptation for existing coastal communities now impacted by crazy council planning, based on the NSW State Coalitions Government “world class” coastal management legislation.

  4. The compulsory acquisition of property deemed indefensible by local government must also be funded by the NSW State Government, not by coastal communities being forced to pay levies to compensate property owners affected by OEH/Coastal Council driven Coastal Management Programs.

  5. Defensive engineering or mitigation solutions must contain storm protection and a long term SLR solution similar to the adaptation plan developed by Lake Macquarie Council. Sea level rise measurements for use in trigger point monitoring must be taken from Fort Denison as the most valid and reliable long term tidal gauge in NSW and must be based on “relative” SLR, not an “adjusted” or “homogenised” rate of SLR aligned to global average SLR. All costs related to defensive adaptation to be paid by the NSW State Government due to its contribution to world global warming and climate change.

  6. The environmental damage caused by past engineering works in the Clyde estuary and what is left of the inner bay (as detailed in the Sethi report) must be rectified by the NSW State Government, not at the expense of the Eurobodalla community.

The NSW State Coalition Government is a proponent of man-made climate change and sea level rise caused by the burning of COAL and other fossil fuels. The NSW State Government also claims $1.5 billion dollars a year in COAL royalties and receives many millions of dollars from the GST generated from the sale of fossil fuels.

With these double standards at play, the NCA does not accept the OEH recipe of denying affected private property owners, state funding, either for compensation or for the future protection of their property against hazards caused by our use or export of fossil fuels.

The NSW Premier and the NSW Cabinet had no trouble establishing levies and funding relief for bushfire and inland flood victims. Why then are they so intent on punishing coastal communities in locations that the State Government identifies as affected by current and future coastal hazards without any offer of financial assistance or in the worst case, compensation?

It is not the role of Government to first threaten coastal communities with projections of catastrophic climate change and then to step back and lay all blame and all costs on those affected while Government directly benefits from those factors that will cause that change.

It is time that the NSW State Coalition Government focussed on the absurdity of its coastal management policies for existing developed coastal areas and the damage these crazy policies will cause to the future wellbeing of NSW coastal communities.

Prepared and released by:

NSW Coastal Alliance

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