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New Year's Gauntlet thrown down for Councillors and Council over Planned Retreat


Eurobodalla Coast Alliance President Russell Schneider AM has called on all ESC Councillors to declare “no planned retreat” and demand Council management review all “vulnerable” residential locations. Mr Schneider’s call follows a commitment from Local MP Andrew Constance to support an engineering solution to protect lower Surfside and declaration that “planned retreat is not an option.” (Planned retreat is a policy which allows Councils to force residents to abandon their property and remove all buildings at their own expense if Council decides the area is threatened by possible sea level rise. It prevents residents taking their own defensive actions and allows Councils to abandon their own infrastructure. More than 60,000 coastal properties in NSW are subject to possible Council imposes “planned retreat”.) Mr Constance rejection of planned retreat was made at a meeting with Surfside residents on December 17. Mr Schneider said "During the meeting Mayor Liz Innes said she was personally opposed to planned retreat but could not commit other Councillors." At that stage Mr Constance suggested she issue a Mayoral Minute opposing planned retreat to test the position of elected Councillors. Following up on the Minister’s suggestion Mr Schneider wrote to all Councillors as follows: Dear Councillors As you would no doubt be aware, our local Member, Andrew Constance, met with Surfside residents and representatives of ECA on Monday December 17. At that meeting Mr Constance confirmed he was opposed to planned or managed retreat in residential areas in Eurobodalla. Mr Constance stressed he did not support actions which would increase insurance premiums or devalue properties. He later released a confirmatory statement which said : ‘Planned Retreat’ is not an option and everyone wants to protect property values and see insurance premiums kept in check. At my instigation RMS are undertaking an assessment to ensure that the building of the new bridge doesn’t have unintended consequences for water and sand movement at Surfside. “I have also ensured that the Minister for the Environment works with local government and most importantly the community to find an engineering solution to stabilising the area, similar to the experience in Lake Macquarie. The NSW Government is looking to find the best solution engineering wise to protect people’s homes. “There are lots of legacy issues that have effected Surfside, including and most probably the sea wall of the southern side of the river and the existing bridge. We need to overcome these as quickly as possible to give certainty to residents .Over the next few months I will be working closely with residents to find the best solution to stabilising the area and securing funding for the required infrastructure.” During the meeting at Surfside Mr Constance suggested the Mayor issue a Mayoral Minute declaring opposition to planned retreat. This would allow Councillors to show their support or otherwise for the interests of residents whose properties have been declared “vulnerable”. I am writing to advise that ECA would strongly support such a Mayoral Minute. Alternately we would be happy if Councillors were prepared to take the initiative and move such a motion from the floor, as this would indicate support not merely from the most senior elected official but from individual elected Councillors. We would hope that such a motion would be passed unanimously, and that Council immediately withdraws its current blackmail requirement that property owners seeking to develop their properties must agree to covenants on their titles committing them to demolish all buildings if rare flood events occur, or impose time limited consent. I would therefore invite you to indicate to the community, through ECA, whether you are prepared to initiate or support a motion or Mayoral Minute rejecting planned retreat and if not, why not. We would also hope elected Councillors would demand management review its current declarations of vulnerable areas which in many cases appear to be based on flawed projections or extreme worst case scenarios and produce new declarations based on undisputable facts. Yours Russell Schneider AM President Eurobodalla Coast Alliance


#Council #LocalStateFederal #BatemansBay #Opinion #Paper

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