Sea-level rise on the agenda at coastal conference

Friday March 28, 2014
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Sea-level rise on the agenda at coastal conference

By Emily Barton

March 28, 2014, 6 a.m.

  • Sea-level rise on the agenda at coastal conference

A PRESENTATION to a national conference of coastal councils has reiterated the need for local government to communicate with residents about sea-level rise, deputy mayor Neil Burnside says.

Councillors this week attended a two-and-a-half day conference at Ballina for coastal councils to discuss the future of the Australian coast and its communities.

The conference was timely as the Eurobodalla Shire Council sea-level rise policy has been under hot debate for the past month.

It comes after a motion, proposed by councillor Milton Leslight, to notify residents affected by sea-level rise was knocked back by the council last week.

Eurobodalla Shire Council general manager Dr Catherine Dale attended the conference along with ERA councillors Burnside, Leslight and Liz Innes.

Speaking on the last day of the conference on Wednesday, Cr Burnside said interesting reports and benchmarks comparing various areas were spoken about throughout the two days.

He said environmental lawyer Andrew Beatty spoke on the legal implications of planning for climate change impacts and reiterated comments made previously regarding the need for councils to be at the front foot when it came to planning for the risks.

“He (Andrew Beatty) said that not only should ratepayers have been told of the potential risk by now, but they should receive updates on the risk as more information becomes available,” Cr Burnside said.

“This flies in the face of the decision of the majority of Eurobodalla councillors at the meeting last week, saying that not only shouldn’t ratepayers be told of the decision taken years ago, but that there was no need to frighten the horses by bothering them with such matters.”

Cr Burnside said he was proposing to call upon all data to compare the Eurobodalla’s performance against other councils.

“Council needs to communicate with affected residents and inform them that they are affected, of the current sea level, the process of reviewing the policy and seek their input into the policy,” he said.

“Not only is it patronising it’s legally imprudent and council needs to tell them and involve them in the process to allow for a clear explanation and to stop the confusion.”

Also addressed at the conference were population trends in coastal areas, planning for uncertainty,  and a national perspective of coastal issues.

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