Northern Rivers Railway Action Group (NRRAG) president Beth Shelly is accusing the Nationals candidate Austin Curtin of calling for the removal of the unused railway embankment along the side go Kyogle Road as part of the ‘Fight the Flood’ petition he is asking residents and businesses to sign.
Talking to Echonetdaily Mr Curtain has clarified that the ‘Lismore stage one flood mitigation works’ he is asking people to support do not include the removal of the unused railway embankment.
‘The $8.3 million we are asking for is to get started on the first part of the flood mitigations that has been approved by the Lismore City Council and has a development application (DA),’ said Mr Austin.
‘It is to remove the high points of soil in the flood plain channel.’
According to a press release by Lismore City Council in mid-June they are planning to ‘Commence excavation of the airport floodway by removing approximately 400,000 cubic metres of soil from high points in the floodway.’
Mr Curtain has emphasised that this is the only work that he is calling for support for as part of the ‘Fight the Flood’ petition.
According to the June press release Lismore City Council will also be commencing work on the ‘Removal of viaducts from the railway line which will allow more floodwater to be directed away from South Lismore and down the airport floodway’ and the ‘Removal of the unused railway embankment along the side of Kyogle Road.’
It is the removal of the ‘unused railway embankment’ that has raised concerns for NRRAG president Beth Shelley.
According to Ms Shelley Council’s Strategic Planning Coordinator, Paula Newman has clarified that ‘Council is in the process of commissioning consultants to prepare a new Lismore Floodplain Risk Management Study to look at a range of options,one of which could include removing railway infrastructure, forming a channel to divert floodwaters around Lismore.’
Commenting on the possible removal of the embankment Ex Byron Councillor and Hydrologist, Duncan Dey says, ‘The crux of the matter is that Lismore Flood Committee thinks removing the railway embankment may help diminish the side effects created by the town levee. Levees always have negative impacts overlooked when they get built.’
Mr Dey states that it is important to wit for the ‘science to come in’ before a final determination on the removal of the embankment is made.
Chairperson of Lismore City Council’s Floodplain Management Committee and Lismore City Councillor Bill Moorhouse has clarified with Echonetdaily that while the viaducts have been partially removed they ‘can’t go ahead with the removal of the embankment until we have had good flood modelling done’.
The modifying and/or diversion of Leycester Creek as a means of diverting floodwater away from both the CBD and South Lismore was on alternative presented by the Citizens Review Committee. This proposal would entail excavating ‘a major channel around South Lismore from Kyogle Road to Loftville Bridge on the Casino Road’ and the ‘removal of two million cubic metres of soil.’
Councillor Moorhouse has stated that while the project had merit at this stage with a ‘price tag of $90 to $120 million is prohibitive in the eyes of the (Floodplain) committee and there are possibly better ways to spend the money’
However, councillor Gianpiero Battista told Echonetdaily that considering the cost of the 2017 flood was between $200 and $300 million, with floods sometimes taking place twice a year, all options should remain on the table.