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Byron Shire
July 7, 2022

Call for pause on approved developments on flood prone land

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Flooding in Kingscliff in 2022. Photo Lindsay Gleeson

As development pressure has continued it has led to the filing in of low-lying areas. The impact that this is having on existing housing, especially as climate change takes effect through ‘unprecedented’ flooding, has led to a call to ‘pause’ development in flood-prone areas. 

‘There’s been a tremendous community reaction to the stories of flooding and “flood-prone” land development,’ Peter Newton, president of the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc (KRPA) told The Echo. 

‘KRPA have called on the minister to, at the least, pause/halt development on flood-prone land until the flood inquiry is complete and findings delivered. We had a huge turnout at our recent monthly Association meeting with lots of visitors and concerned community members. The community of 2487 is clearly, absolutely opposed to further development in these low-lying areas.’

Flooding in Kingscliff in 2017. Photo Lindsay Gleeson

Lindsay Gleeson who has lived in her home in Kingscliff since 1985 says it wasn’t until 2017 that she started to experience flooding at ther property. She told The Echo that there have been ‘a lot of new developments in Kingscliff on low lying areas and that flooding has continued to get worse over time’. 

‘There is a new development at the back of Sand Street between the highway and that is a low-lying area. It concerns me that every time they put in a new development they don’t concern themselves where the water is going to go. Every time they do more developments it gets worse. I no longer feel like I’m going to be safe here. None of these flooding events happened untill 2017.

Flooding in Kingscliff in 2022. Photo Lindsay Gleeson

Call to Planning Minister for a ‘pause’

At the beginning of April KRPA wrote to the Planning Minister as well as to Nationals Geoff Provest, Labor’s Justine Elliott and Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry seeking their support and advocacy for a pause on development in ‘low-lying/flood-prone land’ of the Tweed Shire ‘until the completion and delivery of findings of the Independent Flood Inquiry’.

However, while they have received strong support from the Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry, Labor’s Justine Elliot and Nationals member Geoff Provest’s office told KRPA ‘he was going to take it up last week when down for parliament’ they are yet to hear back from the Planning Minister Anthony Roberts.

Flooding in Kingscliff in 2017. Photo Lindsay Gleeson

When The Echo followed up with Mr Provest they were told that he has advised that: ‘The government flood inquiry is currently open and is looking at current and future development on flood-prone land and the way to mitigate the flood effects that we’ve seen recently and this will involve a whole of government response, once the inquiry is closed and has been assessed’. 

‘I think they really, really need to put on hold any developments in low-lying areas,’ Ms Gleeson told The Echo

‘They need to look at what is happening now not what was happening in the past. We need to have a plan in place of how we are going to cope with the flood water and its impacts if this type of development is going to happen. We need to have flood preparedness.’

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    • Developers only engage their thinking muscle when it involves their profit or loss. They don’t give a toss for what happens after they’ve flogged off the development.

    • Yes, that’s the problem.
      New Planning Minister Anthony Roberts doesn’t Think, he Does, what his government’s developer mates want.

      Sydney Morning Herald newspaper 22/3/2022-
      “NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts scrapped a requirement to consider the risks of floods and fires before building new homes only two weeks after it came into effect and while the state was reeling from a deadly environmental disaster.
      Mr Roberts last week revoked a ministerial directive by his predecessor Robert Stokes outlining nine principles for sustainable development, including managing the risks of climate change, a decision top architects have branded “short-sighted” and hard to understand.”

  1. This is the northern rivers . Most coastal and river areas are potentially flood prone and can only carry just so many buildings on higher land. To fill floodplains for development just won’t work. Nature is mighty and won’t be controlled by man.

  2. At north Lismore plateau, there’s a 87 lot subdivision
    along the Dunoon road flood plain, that went under
    in the February flood

    At the moment it’s in Court with the developers trying to have the court throw the case out before
    their is a hearing, including the flood pleadings are
    trivial or frivolous,

    Similarly Byron should Appeal the West Byron,

  3. These events go on to show that sometimes local government and then often State government over-riding Council, approve development for “growth” that should NEVER happen.

    It is a “no brainer” and that’s what our governments have been doing for decades, lack of brains. One does not need to have a high I.Q. to work this all out.

    Cases in point: Billinudgle and Mullum’ industrial estates land fill, need I say more? Of coarse it causes more flooding elsewhere! Land fill displaces water, doh! Then there’s the walls along the Brunswick river and the narrow choking of the walls at the harbour area. Who’s the bright spark that thought that would work pray tell? This is only a tiny example of what’s happened and we can see what is coming with West Byron, more stupid.

    The question is when will we ever learn? In the end it costs EVERYONE much more, financially and in personal trauma, than what we’re getting from these developments because of government ignorance and it’s complete stupidity.

  4. There should be no further development in areas that need land fill. West Byron – Lot 22 and any low lying swampy area known to flood or natural water way should not be built on. The creek beside Orchid Place Mullumbimby that was filled in and built on is a case in point. A catastrophe!!!

  5. A moratorium on building APPROVALS has to be enacted until NEW flood contours are established. Zoning laws and building approvals for residential land is one of the most basic functions of Local Govs. There is an exhaustive process in place which determines whether land is suitable for building — just put in an application for sub-division and see. Land is certainly NOT suitable if it floods — even a 1% chance may be too high for the owners and community to allow homes to be built. Councils and state govs are relying on engineers and hydrologists reports to draw the ‘flood map’ contours but when you have them fudged by politicians or there are a couple floods within 10 or 20 years, it becomes apparent that the calibration of the 100 year / 1% lines are SIMPLY WRONG and councils can and should be sued for granting approvals. The state gov and Local Councils have NOT WANTED to go near Global Warming because it obviously has big implications for land values, insurance, infrastructure and the whole community as climate science predicted 20 -30 yrs ago.
    The present situation where ” “NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts scrapped a requirement to consider the risks of floods and fires before building new homes only two weeks after it came into effect ” displays the worst cronyism we can have. The alarm bells are ringing; the gov is NOT working in the community interest. That moves us to the courts which are expensive but usually provide a much better solution. The state inquiry is largely a stalling tactic — court action is better. To counter court action some despots are trying to ban class actions, supporting dictatorship instead. That is the path we are on — simple, unless a lot more people get interested in who governs them.


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