The NSW State Liberal Government and their messenger, Gosford City Council, cannot continue the ongoing attack on the livelihood and the wellbeing of people of the NSW Central Coast who are affected by sea level rise projections. This draconian planning framework is now acting as a barrier to future climate change adaptation.
The evening public meeting at North Avoca SLC on the 5th February, highlighted the lack of engagement by the NSW State Government and Gosford City Council with the Central Coast Community on coastal management issues. People were advised that there would be one to one questions and answers after the presentation. When residents objected and demanded an open forum, Council reluctantly accepted. Gosford Council representatives explained they are threatened by a State Government demand that the Coastal Zone Management Plan must be completed within a NSW State Government deadline or they face the loss of future funding for coastal hazard mitigation. This should not have occurred. Council should have made this a true Q&A type forum following the presentation rather than managing peoples responses. The NSW State Government should not place such demands on communities when they are quite legitimately working to achieve the best possible outcome.
There were no State Government representatives present. This is not the way to get a successful outcome – an outcome that the public feels they have ownership of and that generates a range of ideas and concepts that have the potential to provide real solutions
Gosford Council has failed to apply its own Sea Level Rise (SLR) Policy which requires a review within 12 months of new information becoming available from the IPCC or other widely accepted scientific sources. This has denied affected residents in Gosford communities the use of the latest IPCC advice to accurately determine the true extent of future coastal hazards. Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla Councils have now adopted much lower SLR benchmarks than Gosford Council – 23cms by 2050 as opposed to Gosford Councils 40cm by 2050. Hazard lines and flood levels for future risks could be reduced and provide some relief from increasingly draconian development controls that are now based on obsolete SLR benchmarks.
Why are we spending a $million on two major studies and rushing to develop management plans knowing that more reliable and current scientific information is available? Why has the NSW State Government stepped away from this issue?
As a consequence of a very recent (January 2015 decision)successful Land & Environment Court appeal by EM Dunford against a Gosford Council decision to reject development of a property at Wamberal, Gosford Council Officers have recommended the urgent introduction of harsher development constraints through a revision of the current Development Control Plan for beach frontage properties. This is inconsistent with Council’s claims at recent public information sessions and in the media that they are pro-development and that people will be able to continue developing beachfront properties. If Councillors adopt this recommendation it will sterilise future development for many landowners at Wamberal and effectively shuts down any suggestion that other beachfront communities can expect a fair go in the future. Why hasn’t Gosford Council provided this information at recent public forums to ensure that submissions by affected residents are fully informed?
Gosford City Council, unlike all other NSW Councils, will only provide a combined Section 149 (2) &149 (5) Planning Certificate. The law only requires vendors to attach a S149 (2) Planning Certificate to the contract for the sale of property. Besides the additional cost of $80 that is pocketed by Gosford Council for a single printed page, the information on a S149 (5) related to coastal hazards is not meant to be attached to a contract for the sale of property because it does not include any information on how future hazards will be mitigated. Current hazards together with foreseeable hazards related to property, are mitigated through development controls that support adaptation and provide certainty for future buyers and owners. Section 149(5) notations do not provide such detailed advice and consequently are not to be attached to contracts for the sale of land. Gosford Council reaps around $600 000 annually by circumventing legislation that is designed to protect buyers and vendors and has been doing so for 10 years. The NSW State Government allows this situation to continue!
The NSW State must step forward and take control of these issues. We cannot have the uncertainty of vastly different interpretations of law and SLR benchmarks determined by different local Councils along the same coastline. This does not create a vision of certainty and future prosperity and counters any attempt to revive a stalled economy – local, state and national. Local businesses, residents and especially our unemployed youth are the casualties of Councils co-operation with the NSW State Government in shifting all costs of Climate Change Adaptation onto those directly affected.
Let’s not forget that it is the unmitigated use of fossil fuels that is claimed to drive a warming planet. We all benefit from the greater than $1 billion in coal royalties and $millions in GST from coal mining and related business activity which includes the $1.7billion yearly profit to the NSW State Government from coal generated power.
Bushfires, major flood events and major storms are very effectively addressed by NSW emergency services. Home insurance includes a 30% compulsory state government levy that funds emergency services to the sum of around $1billion annually. Over $350million is spent yearly on Rural Fire Services. People facing the risk of coastal hazards willingly contribute to this massive fund through their home insurance and yet are denied those very services in the event of coastal erosion or coastal flooding events. The budget for NSW coastal management is around $3million yearly and is regularly underspent. This inequity must be addressed if we are to successfully adapt to climate change.
Coastal Residents Incorporated – Pat Aiken Secretary 0410 800 188
If you enjoyed this article please consider sharing it!