Wooli retreat estimated at $157m

WOOLI residents share a drink in the dunes. Roger Goldsmith is pictured back left.
WOOLI residents share a drink in the dunes. Roger Goldsmith is pictured back left.

A MEMBER of the Coastal Communities Protection Alliance-Wooli (CCPA-Wooli) believes a planned retreat from Wooli would cost much more than Clarence Valley Council has indicated.

Roger Goldsmith has calculated the cost of the planned retreat policy contained in council’s Wooli Village Draft Coastal Management Plan as $157 million.

He said the cost was based on loss of residential and commercial property, rates revenue, tourism revenue and government land; and the cost of cleaning up abandoned sites and removing public buildings.

“Clean-up, including septic tanks, would be essential to protect the marine environment if the sea breached the dune,” Mr Goldsmith said.

“I estimate that would cost at around $14 million (and) it would be the responsibility of either council or the NSW government.’

The remainder of the $157 million is broken down as: $120 million compensation for the loss of 180 homes in south Wooli; $20 million for the loss of government land; and $3 million for the loss of businesses in the south of Wooli.

Mr Goldsmith said council needed to ‘fully research’ all options before proceeding.

“Figures quoted in the plan don’t take into account peripheral costs to the whole community and the region – they are grossly underestimated,” he said.

“There are a number of alternatives to the enormous cost of retreat, such as selling government land that, under a retreat policy, would be worthless.

“The significant sums raised could be invested in government securities that would generate over $500,000 a year.

“This could fund dune replenishment or other actions to protect the dune from being breached during a storm, and preserve both the investment capital and the homes and businesses of council ratepayers.”

A CVC spokesman said Mr Goldsmith’s figures included a degree of ‘crystal balling’ and said costs in council’s draft Coastal Management Plan did not allow for compensation of homes.

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