Not much left of Main Beach at Evans Head thanks to large swells and king tides.
Not much left of Main Beach at Evans Head thanks to large swells and king tides. Samantha Elley

Cusack attacks coastal bill

LENNOX Head-based Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack has criticised a new government policy on coastal protection, saying it doesn't go far enough.

Speaking in Parliament during debate on the Coastal Protection Bill last week, Ms Cusack attacked the Bill as "not even half an Act", criticising it for containing what she described as "rubbish" sea level rise predictions developed under the former NSW Department of Environment and Conservation.

She also lashed out at the inclusion of the Bruun rule to predict coastal erosion. The Bruun rule was developed in 1962 to predict erosion on individual beaches from rising sea levels, but becomes unreliable when applied to broad stretches of coast.

"The Government has told local councils that it is no longer mandatory to follow the ludicrous sea level rise statement but that it will still give advice and information. In reality, that will still bind most local councils to the sea level policy," Ms Cusack told the parliament.

Lennox Head-based Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack.
Lennox Head-based Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack. Patrick Gorbunovs

This stupid policy mandates, for example, the Bruun rule when Bruun himself has said that the rule should not be used in this  context.

"This policy has been completely discredited and the department knows it, but because the department has no better information it will rely on it."

Ms Cusack said the coastal threat of climate change was more complex than rising sea levels.

"The issue that New South Wales faces is the warming of the oceans which is changing the currents and the way they work," she said.

"First, that has an impact on our soft coastline. Secondly, it has an impact on the weather and causes storm surge and much more severe and frequent events."

Ms Cusack said she welcomed the changes made in the Bill, but said it needed to go further.

"I applaud this legislation but I call on the Government to go further. A great deal more needs to be done," she said.

Ms Cusack's comments followed a series of comments by Greens MPs, including former Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham, who warned the new policy failed to account for worst-case scenarios, meant people buying property in coastal erosion zones would not be properly informed, and could increase the liability of councils if people building in erosion zones lost their properties "in 20, 50, or 100 years' time".

"The bill seems-this concern has been raised-to be narrow in its positioning and outcomes, because I do not believe it is really about good science or good planning," Ms Barham said.

"This is about lobbying from an influential and powerful group of people who live in the coastal zone.

Broken Head-based Greens MLC Jan Barham
Broken Head-based Greens MLC Jan Barham Jay Cronan

 

"I know how effective they can be because I have been subjected to a lot of their influence, lobbying and-dare I say-threats for the past 20 years when I have spoken out against the right of people to do something that will impact on everyone's enjoyment and enhancement of public space, our commons, the beach."

The Bill was passed 20 votes to 17.



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