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Byron Shire
July 1, 2022

Council decision led to flooding issues: historian

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Image from a 2017 presentation to Byron Shire Council by Cr Alan Hunter.

Former councillor and local historian Frank Mills AOM has supported claims that past actions of Council over forty years ago contributed to current flooding issues.   

The Echo’s August 8 story, Flood mismanagement blamed on decades-old Council decisions, details longtime local Jim Mangleson’s claims that Council at the time were liable ‘for increasing flooding in the area by breaching development consent conditions.’

Mills says he agrees with the assessment and says, ‘In 1976, I was a councillor of Byron Shire and, following a request from the fishermen of Brunswick Heads, I was one of the councillors who voted to close the ocean outlet north of Fern Beach.’

Ocean outlet closed in 1976

‘This decision was made in good faith.

‘However, it is regrettable because the development has changed dramatically over the years and this action would increase the flood heights.’

Mills says another outlet, just north of the Byron Shire boundary, belonged to his great uncle James Murnane and also ‘had a large outlet to the sea and was closed when the sand mining was being carried out on the Tweed and Byron coast in the 1930s.’

‘It must be remembered always that when it floods, the water’s objective is to get to the ocean, and to close off two outlets must increase the flooding.’

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  1. Rediculous claims of a permanent outlet to the sea. Shows lack of comprehension of how floodplain works. With the size of our catchment there is no way that a permanent outlet can be naturally maintained. Sure there have been breaches of the dunes at times due to large sea events, but these soon close up due to lack of adequate supply of water. As shown by previous flood plain studies, if an outlet was to be made it would have to be managed so that sea water did not enter the floodplain. No matter how often this is explained to some people by a variety of experts, they will not give up there ill-founded views. The last floodplain plan was at pains to address these issues such as ‘outlets’ and rock walls and dredging. These issues were put to rest after being thoroughly addressed and found to be either unworkable or having negligible effects.


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