They?re coming

By BELINDA SCOTT

LIFESTYLE and the environment are the magnets that are bringing a steady stream of new residents to the Coffs Coast.

But will they end up killing the things they love, buried under infrastructure built to support them or new subdivisions to house them?

A survey of the North Coast by Don Page, the NSW Deputy Leader of the Nationals, has confirmed the conclusions drawn by demographer Bernard Salt, who says the stampede to warm coastal areas of Australia by the baby boomer generation, is an unstoppable force which will change these regions completely in the next 20 years.

Don Page, who is also the member for Ballina, said lifestyle and the environment were the main attraction for 65 per cent of people who completed the survey, while 27 per cent had moved to be with family and friends.

The 2005 KPMG Population Growth Report shows Nambucca Heads as the 14th fastest growing centre in Australia and Coffs Harbour just behind as the 15th fastest.

Developer Barry France, who has been working towards development of a sensitive coastal area near Hearns Lake for three years, said while he was not happy with the time this had taken, he thought Coffs Harbour City Council was doing a good job in interpreting new State Government guidelines on sustainable development to protect the coast.

He said both developers and members of environmental groups had to be prepared to accept scientific findings on developments, but he thought it better to concentrate on keeping intact larger areas of high ecological importance, rather than small easily-degraded remnant areas.

Long-time Nambucca Shire Council general manager, Tom Port, in his 2004 submission to the Productivity Commission, pointed out some of the problems his council was experiencing ? pension rate subsidies making up 10 per cent of rate revenue and rate pegging enforced by the State Government while ratepayers are being called on to finance youth workers, community workers, community transport and other 'lifestyle' services.

The National Party member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said seachangers wanted the country lifestyle and environment but also wanted services equal to those they had enjoyed in capital cities.

Mr Fraser said the Nationals were pushing for increased funding for adult community education after finding that seachangers valued and sought out such courses, which are under funding pressure.

Revelations that Coffs Harbour's koala plan of management has been powerless to prevent the felling of many areas of city koala habitat because of existing approvals, illustrate the problems still to come, while coastal councils continue to fear further cost-shifting on to their shoulders by other tiers of government.



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