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Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

Floodplain planning

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Duncan Dey, Main Arm

Thanks to The Echo for last week covering what might look like small bickies, a Council committee meeting on flooding. On Thursday, 29 October the committee heard from experts and authorities like State Planning and State Emergency Services (the SES).

Planners discussed the technicalities of land being promoted by Council for housing on the floodplains south of Mullumbimby (Council’s own Lot 22, plus several neighbours). SES don’t support the stay-in-house approach to flood safety, but are down to 10 volunteers, despite having 37 on the books.

I want us to recognise two strings of flood planning: that for existing floodplain dwellers, and that for the future. Please let’s treat them separately.

From a hydrologist with 50 years of experience in flood analysis and floodplain management, here’s an example; to alleviate risk on existing wet properties subdivided through historical mistakes, I’d support flood gates (one-way stormwater flaps) because they sometimes do work. But to bring new people to a floodplain, these and other non-natural interventions must not be considered. Rezoning is about bringing in new people. Lot 22 is flood-prone.

I do support making housing affordable. But let’s house people on dry land, not land that puts them, and our few remaining SES volunteers, at risk. When the Shire has run out of dry land, then maybe let’s look at Lot 22.

It’s a shame to see such enthusiasm for affordable housing go down the gurgler.


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