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Byron Shire
October 4, 2022

Call to halt approved Kingscliff developments over flood risks

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Cate Faehrmann looking at flood prone land that approved for development in Kingscliff with President of the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Peter Newton and Tweed Councillor Dr Nola Firth. Photo Jacob Miller.

Those affected by the 2022 floods welcomed the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s commitment to the recommendations of the NSW Flood Inquiry but it is the existing approvals for development on floodplains that are causing serious concerns for many communities.

On Friday Cate Faehrmann (Greens), who was a member of the upper house 2022 Flood Inquiry, visited Kingscliff to see first hand approved, but as yet unbuilt developments that locals fear will cause more intense flooding of existing houses in the future. 

‘Cate’s visit was fulfilling a commitment she made to KRPA following our submission to the parliamentary flood inquiry and our appearance before that inquiry in early June. Cate wanted to see first-hand the areas impacted by flooding and the swathes of (legacy approved) low-land in the district which contributed to the flood impact,’ Peter Newton, President of the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc (KRPA) told The Echo. 

Cate Faehrmann meets locals. Photo Jacob Miller

‘Many members of our community were impacted by flood waters – many in places always considered “flood-safe”. Cate has now seen first-hand the lands in question and spoken to residents about the impact these had on the community. We remain rightly concerned about the further impact of  ‘legacy approved’ developments on low-lying land will have on existing residences.’

The issue of land that was zoned for residential development up and down the east coast of NSW in the 1970’s, 80s and 90s has ensured that there are many areas that are zoned for residential development that are at risk in relation to flooding and fire. Yet many of these packets of land have current approvals for development. 

Peter Newton, Cate Faehrmann and Jenny Kidd talking to locals about flood impacts in Kingscliff. Photo Jacob Miller

‘These legacy development approvals will allow housing to be built on flood prone land. Not only will it be a disaster for the people who buy them, it will exacerbate flood impacts for existing residents,’ Ms Faehrmann told The Echo

‘After seeing the proposed sites for myself I find it shocking that anyone would think it’s a good idea to fill and develop them. These wetlands, some of the last remaining in the area, act as sponges and ponds to help mitigate flood impacts on the surrounding community. Concreting them over will exacerbate the impact of future floods on all of Kingscliff and Tumbulgum.’

President of the Tumbulgum Community Association (TCA), Jenny Kidd, said, ‘we have had another very significant natural event and there should be a moratorium on development on floodplains, including on approved developments’.

Ms Kidd said the TCA had written to local state member Geoff Provest about a moratorium in July and he said that he would get back to them but they still hadn’t heard back. 

‘The question isn’t what is the cost of buying back these lands from developers now but what will be the ongoing cost to government down the track if they allow these developments to go ahead? Because if they go ahead they will not only have the costs of the future floods on existing dwellings but on the thousands of dwellings that are currently planned for these low lying floodplains. The cost of a buyback now might alleviate significant future cost to government, communities and individuals.’

Ms Kidd and Mr Newton said their communities welcomed the Flood Inquiry recommendation to put the voice of the community first when it comes to floodplain and lowland considerations.

‘Community voice is absolutely critical given that contemporary approaches to flood plain development consideration advocate a ‘risk management’ based approach, which simply looks at the safe evacuation of people as a guiding principle for development,’ said Mr Newton. 

‘After what this community has experienced, we cannot countenance simply putting more people in harms way and exacerbating a dire situation. The needs (voice) of the community must take precedent in any future considerations.’

‘After the catastrophic floods that Kingscliff, Tumbulgum and surrounding areas have experienced, the State Government must step in and ensure these developments never go ahead,’ said Ms Faehrmann.

‘The Premier has said that development on areas at high risk from floods has to stop. I’m calling on him to put his money where his mouth is and direct the Planning Minister to do whatever it takes to ensure these developments do not go ahead.’

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  1. to the author: do you wake up in the morning and think ‘what can I oppose today’, its just one thing after another, so much negativity.

    I am assuming you live in a house and work in a building ? these are developments too, once they did not exist. Its incredibly selfish to think that we can oppose homes for other people from a different time and place.

    Why can Nimbys only see what’s directly in front of them , in their own puny single life time scale, things change, we need homes for people ASAP.

  2. Clearly Mick hasn’t woken up to see at least a metre of water and more filling his house.
    Good on you Mick we need more go getters like yourself in the area

  3. There is a HUGE problem with the existing approvals. Many pushed the flood safety envelope when rezoned and now look like a disaster. Councils and the State Gov approve the final engineering plans for construction and they are responsible/liable for those approvals. Thats where they have to be stopped — not because many want to stop housing but because as a community, we CAN NOT AFFORD TO APPROVE HOMES THAT FLOOD. It costs everyone; council, volunteers, higher insurance or no insurance at all, other Australians who donate to flood appeals, family breakdown, waste and want. We cannot afford it! I wonder If the Micks of the world, machinery owners and the developers want to underwrite their developments from flood … I wonder.

  4. I’m one of the people who lost everything in the flood. Now I’m living in a caravan park at Pottsville which has been provided by the State government. Having experienced the devastation of the flood and the pain and ongoing mental trauma it has created for all of the people here, I implore the government not to allow any further filling of land at Kingscliff or Chinderah. The ongoing costs for all but the developer( Gales Holdings) cannot be imagined. Many thanks to the state government for giving us a home even though it is temporary.


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