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Byron Shire
March 28, 2023

Ballina to examine flood mitigation options other than fill

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Ballina Shire councillors have baulked at estimates that raising services, roads and land with fill could cost over a billion dollars.

Instead the council will examine other flood mitigation options such as levees, pumps and floodgates.

The council yesterday approved its long-awaited flood management strategy which mayor David Wright admitted was not perfect.

‘No it’s not perfect but we needed to make a start,’ Cr Wright told Echonetdaily.

‘Some of the councillors thought we should start from the beginning but at least this provides some guidance.’

At the previous meeting, Planning North director Steve Connelly had warned it could cost half a billion dollars to raise the island to a level that would withstand flooding caused by climate change and other factors by 2050.

Staff estimated filling the remaining private land in Ballina island to the 2050 height level would require 530,000 cm of fill, and 300,000 cm for West Ballina.

‘Using the cost for filling suggested by Edge Consulting from their work preparing the Ballina Major Retail Centre Strategy, the cost of this filling is estimated to be $75 million,’ the staff report says.

‘The Planners North estimate is 3,500,000 cm at a cost of $537 million.’

As for roads, Ballina island has 52 kilometres of roads which would require 460,000 cm of fill, costing $16 million. West Ballina has 21 kilometres of roads which would cost $7.5 million.

To replace the 73 kilometres of roads entirely, the council estimated it would be facing a bill of $143.5 million, while Planners North put forward a figure of $415 million for just 46.2 kilometres of roads.

At yesterday’s meeting, councillors voted to adopt the flood management strategy but investigate other flood mitigation options.

Ballina mayor David Wright said the council would continue looking at measures such as levees, pumps and floodgates to protect the island precinct.

Councillors also voted to maintain fill level requirements at existing heights for now.

‘If someone wants to build they’ll have to fill but we’re also looking at other ways to raise floor levels such as Queenslander style buildings,’ Cr Wright said.

Cr Wright dismissed suggestions that Balllina’s potential to flood was a deterant to investors.

‘It doesn’t appear to have stopped them yet.

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  1. When the ice-caps melt, and this could happen at any time , the sea level is predicted to rise sixty six meters.
    That circumstance will require rather long stumps or massive land fill operations……
    but seriously, Ballina and all developments below the new sea level are obviously expendable or the government would seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
    I worry though, that the areas left above that height may be most unsuitable for agriculture and, of course, much reduced in area and any transport would need to be via boat.


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