Coffs Coast
Coffs Coast

Call to release future coast plan

AN important coastal study that shows future inundation of important areas of Coffs Harbour should be publicly released immediately, say community groups and present and past councillors.

They want the report released ahead of the council’s consideration of the draft city centre plan.

Coffs Harbour City Council is being pushed by the State Government to move ahead on approving the City Centre Plan and is expected to have it on the agenda at next week’s meeting; the last for the year.

The Jetty Action Group, Coffs Harbour City Councillor Mark Graham, former city councillor Rod McKelvey, and respected senior Coffs Harbour engineer Ernie Armstrong, are among those calling for the immediate release of the Coffs Harbour Coastal Processes and Hazards Definition Study Final Draft Report.

The report applies predicted sea level rises for 2050 and 2110 to the Coffs Coast and floodplains to predict likely coastal erosion and inundation 40 and 100 years into the future.

JAG spokesman Ashley Love said the council had refused to release the September report on the basis that it was just a working paper not yet endorsed by council, but its implications for hundreds of households and commercial properties and its likely impact on real estate values meant it should be public.

“It is highly improper that a small group of councillors and council staff have this information and are denying it from the broader community,” Mr Love said.

“With the council set to consider the draft city centre plan next week, with the proposed rezoning of key low-lying areas of the Jetty Foreshore to permit three-six-storey resort-style development it is critical the coastal study be released,” Mr Love said.

Cr Mark Graham has attended briefings on the draft report.

He said the northern precinct at the Jetty presented ‘an immediate hazard’ and the report showed this precinct, around the yacht club, would be substantially inundated by 2050 and completely under water by 2110.

He said he had raised this in council briefing sessions.

“Council now knows it has major planning and zoning issues,” Cr Graham said. “The report also shows big problems for Hogbin Drive, with the airport runways an isthmus or peninsula and the Coffs Harbour Education Campus an island with a thin strip of land linking it to John Paul College. I hope this puts the last nail in the coffin of the industrial development at the airport.”

The State Emergency Service has recently declined a council-suggested move to the airport because, as one SES official said, ‘we’d need flood boats to get to our flood boats.’

Former councillor Rod McKelvey said coastal mapping showed Hearnes Lake in the future was ‘a basket case’ and if the State Government approved a planned subdivision, 200 families could be underwater in 40 years, repeating historical flooding problems in Coffs Harbour which the present council is wrestling with.

Engineer and Jetty resident Ernie Armstrong has been showing hair-raising possible future high water levels on the Jetty Foreshore to anyone who would listen for at least 20 years.

He said NSW Government studies and geological records showed storm surge heights of 7-10 metres Australian height datum, which had led to recommendations no living floor should be less than 7m AHD along the NSW coastline.

“Why have a coastal policy that says one thing and then do the other?” Mr Armstrong said.

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