NSW Coalition Fiddles While Houses Fall into the Sea

The Beagle Editor, NSW Coalition Fiddles While Houses Fall into the Sea

After the latest “East Coast Low”, houses are falling into the sea at Wamberal on the Central Coast, where for over 20 years, Council and the NSW Government have thwarted the construction of a sea wall. Stockton Beach that has been eroding for many years as a result of the oceanic reaction to break walls protecting the entrance to the Port of Newcastle, and has suffered badly from the recent storms. Sand piled onto Jimmys Beach at Port Stephens as part of a major beach nourishment project has disappeared.

Fortunately, Lower Surfside near Batemans Bay on the Far South Coast dodged the fury of this latest low-pressure weather event, but residents wait for their turn to come after the local member, and NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, reneged on his election promise to provide Lower Surfside with a protective sea wall.

Above: Even with locals warning contractors that Surfside was susceptible to sea surge they went ahead regardless to build a boat ramp only to find it washed away before completion

Like Stockton Beach at Newcastle, the erosion at Lower Surfside is man-made. Dredging, bridge pylon turbulence and sea wall construction, have eroded the spit and sand shoals that once provided the area with natural protection from coastal storms.

Modern man has been successfully engineering coastal protection works for hundreds of years, but the Berejiklian Government has adopted a new Coastal Management Act that promotes coastal “retreat”, or soft protection, like sand nourishment. This Act, that has stripped the property rights of coastal property owners, was hatched by the Greens, developed by Labor, and implemented by the Liberal /National Coalition in 2018. The major parties have been unduly influenced by the powerful NSW Coastal Panel (now NSW Coastal Council) that has opposed “hard” engineering solutions like sea walls and groins. The Coastal Council is supported by public servants, in State and local government environmental roles, who seem intent on resuming or expropriating all privately held waterfront and low-lying coastal property, and returning it to public ownership.

Regrettably, State Planning Minister Rob Stokes is no friend of coastal property owners. Stokes iterated his support for “coastal retreat” at 2018 pre-election functions, and has promoted “ambulatory boundaries” as the solution for properties affected by coastal storms and sea level rise. Under this scenario, registered waterfront land boundaries move back as they are affected by the encroaching seas. And, the owner forfeits the affected land to the State, without any compensation.

If the Berijiklian Government wants to be remembered for its diminution of coastal property rights, and the destruction of coastal economies, it is well on the way to meeting its objective.

Prepared and released by:

Ian Hitchcock

Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator

NSW Coastal Alliance