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Byron Shire
December 6, 2023

Independent review of development on flood-prone land welcomed in Tweed Shire

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An aerial view of Chinderah towards Kingscliff taken in the immediate aftermath of the flood on 28 February 2022.

As we look around the Northern Rivers there is no shortage of evidence of the dangers of building on floodplains and many people are welcoming NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts’ announcement of an independent review of development in flood-prone parts of the state. 

Kingscilff resident Mary Woods told The Echo that her previously ‘flood-safe’ home was flooded for the first time during the 2022 floods and she believes it will only get worse if the already approved developments on the nearby floodplain go ahead. 

‘Floodplain development has pushed the flood water into places it has never been before,’ she said. 

‘There was additional development that involved filling the floodplain around five years ago off Kingscliff Street and what happened this flood is that the floodplain couldn’t cope with the amount of water in it and it pushed the water up Ozone, Ocean, Sand, Surf, and Terrace Streets [among others] flooding places that have never flooded before. And there is more development that involves filling the floodplain that has been approved.

‘Currently approved but yet to be built as well as future development on floodplains need to the part of the rereview into flood-prone lands,’ she said.

The Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc (KRPA) has also supported the independent review and have written to Minister Roberts supporting the need to look at both ‘​​existing and proposed future developments in flood-prone locations’.

‘We are writing to Minister Roberts to thank him for his quick action in calling the review and to seek his assurance that his government remains committed to change and the severe impact of these recent events do not “fade” with memory,’ KRPA President Peter Newton told The Echo

‘The Tweed Shire, and indeed our own area, has large swathes of low-lying land slated and approved for residential development. These historical approvals go back to a time when the understanding of “flood-plain” and low-land development was framed by the then contemporary view of climate and the environment. Times, and our knowledge and understanding of these things, have changed. We trust that this review will consider these proposed future developments and we would ask that, at the very least, future development considerations and approvals on such land be paused until the review delivers its findings.’

Mayor of Tweed Chris Cherry is urging people to support the Together Tweed Mayoral Flood Appeal 2022 to help raise funds to assist flood-affected communities. Image supplied

Reassess approved developments

Speaking to The Echo the Mayor of Tweed Shire Chis Cherry said that ‘Rethinking what we are doing in terms of developing in flood plains is a must. We can’t keep doing the same old, same old and expect a different result. We have to accept that with climate change, events like our recent flood are going to be more and more frequent and we need to have some hard conversations with the community about how to prepare for this.’

‘The review needs to target areas that may already be earmarked for residential or industrial development and look at whether this is still a sensible proposal with what we now know of climate change. Back-zoning is a word that is a difficult one – but we really need leadership from the state government on making this possible.

‘The review needs to take into account the latest science on climate change and the modelling that this predicts in terms of impacts on our residential areas. We need investment in reducing climate change impacts on our community up front, rather than pouring money into clean-up and recovery. We need the state government to change its thinking on this and the review is a good first step.’

Simple equation

Mr Newton said that it is a ‘simple equation’ – ‘we cannot keep building in these areas’.

‘The events of the last few weeks clearly illustrate that unless real and substantive change occurs in the way in which developments are considered and approved, we are simply doomed to repeat the cycle and endure the devastating impacts. The review should provide an opportunity to bring all levels of government and stakeholders (including developers) together to consider and implement real and substantive change in the way land is approved for development and also building standards/structures themselves. This community deserves no less than an assurance that the review will lead to substantive and positive change.’

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  1. I couldn’t see one word about compensating owners of land that will be condemned for development. One minute you own a million dollar developable block next it is condemned for development. This will not go well.

    • Development is a gamble. People buy a swamp very cheap. Apply to develop, council denies, then appealed at state level, gets passed. There were no guarantees along the way, hence no need for compensation. Maybe refund what they payed for it originally.

  2. A ‘review ‘ on developments on flood prone land ? Hello !! is anyone home ?
    Main Arm Residents Association (MARA ) Main Arm Rural Residents Association (MARRA) and other residents groups around the Shire have been urging various Councils over years NOT to approve developments on flood prone land and areas.
    Has it taken this catastrophic event to make this Council and the planning department finally listen to what we have been telling them for years?
    Of course developments should not happen on flood prone lands and areas. It’s just so bleeding obvious, why do we need to review it ?
    Just stop it

  3. We have been battling the North Lismore Plateau development for 10 years which includes residential
    on the base of the plateau on the Dunoon road Flood plain – in the last flood those areas were inundated and any proposed development on the top of the plateau would be isolated for days.

    In fact I had a Court hearing the day after the flood, I submitted to the Court this development, subsidised by 10s of millions of ratepayer funds was uninsurable, inundated by the flood and was nothing but a real estate scam, yet Lismore City Council are pushing on like their is no tomorrow,

    When you have Councillors such as Ellie Bird of our Sustainable Futures supporting these developments and whose vote pushed it through, then you can see how big this problem particularly in Lismore really is.

  4. The article written in March 17 echo.net by Eli Cook speaks to this very issue and speaks some very logical points. I was surprised this week to see the West Byron development 2nd stage approved as if nothing had happened. We need to urgently look at the way these processes are carried out and the implications.

  5. If you own land in these low-lying, flood-prone areas, you are in for hard times. It is not enough to restrict future development (a Sisyphean task). The past has to be rectified. Perhaps the Council would like to tell us how successful they were in the past in resuming environmentally compromised land. I don’t think their response would give me much confidence about their future effectiveness in dealing with this issue.

  6. Flood Plain development??? Nothing to do with Warming Climate, higher sea surface temps (LA Nina) and sea surface levels or the massive amount off carbon we are putting into the atmosphere, come on, own it, prepare for it and stop blaming someone else!!!

    From someone that was also flooded 2022, 2018 and a bunch others I can’t even remember all the dates!

  7. Dredging the rivers would go a long way towards solving the problem of flooding because in different sections of the Tweed River it is possible to walk in the middle at low tide .
    Tidal barriers on every river outflow into the sea would stop the incoming tide backing up the water so it can flow over the barrier

    • This is the most logical solution but the Government is like the dog in the manger,
      “Do nothing and stop others from trying”.

  8. So if you can’t build or develop in these areas where are you planning to allow building and development? It was a 1/100year event or greater. You’re also locking up anything that has a tree on it. There is already a shortage of housing, you don’t allow developers to go up with high rise buildings. Where will our children live and what future will they have in the tweed? Chris cherry and some of these other councilors are completely out of touch and will use any excuse to flat out stop all development. They do not have the best interests of the people. Only weeks after the flood she’s using it as a harpoon to stop development , before that it was bushfires and koalas.
    I’d rather live in a house that gets flooded once every 100 years than be homeless. Let people make their own choices.


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