Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says the government is rushing through significant changes to coastal management at a time when local governments are in caretaker mode and cannot respond.
‘It looks suspiciously like the government is rushing this through to avoid having to take into consideration the views of local government,’ said Ms Faehrmann.
Under existing legislation introduced by the previous state Labor government, councils must take into account the sea-level rise predictions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The arrangement involves local councils placing ‘section 149’ notices on properties deemed to be at risk, alerting owners and potential buyers to the problem.
Properties along the Tweed and Byron coastline, especially around Belongil, are potentially affected and have been served section 149 notices in the past.
But the government says the science of sea-level rises caused by climate change has moved on and insists owners of coastal residences should be given more flexibility.
‘There has been concern about the negative impacts on property values from these unclear section 149 certificate notations,’ special minister of state Chris Hartcher said when announcing the changes.
Ms Faehrmann has written to the premier to request that the passage of the legislation be delayed for six months to allow time for proper consultation.
She says that the rush ‘will force local government down a path of ad-hoc coastal protection measures. The bill will repeal the scientifically determined sea-level-rise benchmarks councils use for their planning and make it harder for them to regulate property owners who sandbag beaches to the detriment of neighbours, beachgoers and the beach itself.
‘These changes raise serious questions regarding coastal councils’ ability to plan for sea-level rise in a sensible strategic manner. There are also potentially serious implications for insurance liabilities. Given this the government must delay the legislation until thorough consultation has taken place.
‘I have written to the premier and environment minister to request they commit to a six-month delay before parliamentary debate resumes. That is the only way to ensure credible consultation with one of the most important stakeholders – local government.
‘The ad-hoc approach to coastal management that the bill embraces will be of enormous concern to councils along our coast and their voices should be heard,’ said Ms Faehrmann.