Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay
Byron Shire Council currently has on exhibition proposed planning controls for their Byron Bay Town Centre Plan. Given that Council has declared a climate emergency, I am disappointed that they have not recognised the precarious position of the town centre owing to rising seas and duly accounted for this in their planning.
The centre of town is only 2m above mean sea level, and far less during high tides, and sea levels are rising fast owing to climate change.
Owing to the accelerated melting of ice masses at the poles there is now a recognised probability that seas could rise by 1– 2m by the end of this century.
Given the inevitability of rising seas, it is only a matter of time until 2m is exceeded. Storm surges raise sea levels significantly above this.
The town centre is threatened in the short term by coastal attack during storms and floodwaters backing up in the Belongil estuary into the town centre.
To me the key question that needs to be resolved now is, in the long term are we going to wall the town centre to prevent the ingress of the sea and estuary (and pump out floodwaters), and thereby allow for the increased development proposed (and more carparks – below sea level) or relocate it over time to higher ground?
I am alarmed that the only apparent consideration of rising seas is modeled flood levels at 2050, based on a sea-level rise of 0.4m. The model used has been identified by Council’s own consultants as fundamentally flawed and under-estimating resulting flooding in the Belongil estuary in extreme weather events.
In this climate emergency Council needs to have a long-term strategy for how it is going to cope with the impacts on the town centre of rising sea levels and increasing floods, and begin now to adapt its planning to facilitate this. The proposal to simply allow for taller buildings is untenable.
PS: Simon, I have made numerous detailed submissions on the folly of only using a sea-level rise of 0.4m for planning to Council for over a decade.