Wooli wants protection

WOOLI residents have met to discuss their fightback against a proposal to let rising sea levels inundate threatened areas of their village.

More than 90 residents took part in a meeting in the Wooli Hall on Saturday afternoon to plan submissions to Clarence Valley Council protesting against a council draft proposal to allow the sea to flood around 45 houses on a section of land between the Wooli beach and river.

The meeting also formed a committee to help residents take the fight to council.

Committee member Bruce Bird said the main purpose of the meeting was to educate residents about the type of things they could include in submissions to council opposing the Local Environment Plan (LEP) for the area.

“The community came together to understand and get a better idea about submissions,” Mr Bird said.

“The primary reason for the meeting was to get as many people as possible to put in a submission and for those who weren't sure about what to put in their submission, to give them some ideas and an idea of what other people were thinking.”

Mr Bird said council could take a lesson from the Wooli Public School, which has been fighting dune erosion for the past eight years.

“One of the people at the meeting said that kindergarten kids have been doing something to save the dunes, but council can't,” Mr Bird said.

He said he expected almost all the affected residents to put a submission into council.

“There was a lot of interest from all the home owners about the LEP,” Mr Bird said.

“They are certainly concerned. They want to make sure that the council understands that we're not here to be washed away. We're not here to be played with and we want to be taken seriously.

“They haven't given us all the options and that is the principal point.

“The council has not put all the options on the table. Those options have to be put on the table and examined fully before anything else is put to the people.”

Mr Bird said the submissions would contain a lot of local knowledge about the Wooli Beach, gathered by generations of residents.

One option Mr Bird favours is beach scraping, where council utilises sand the ocean dumps on the beach to replenish the dunes.

“It's been shown in places like Holland that you can utilise what nature has given you,” he said.

“It was one option in the LEP that council has not even mentioned.”

Mr Bird said residents were also concerned other key aspects of the plan, such as a so-called “land swap lease” on nearby Crown land, were not spelt out.

“If you have a $1 million property with a 180 degree view are you going to walk away from that and take a $137,000 place as a land swap lease?” he said.

“You can't own it. You can never sell it. You'll never get your money back for it. It's only a lease.

“Is that truly a land swap? It's not dollar for dollar and that's what I imagine swap means.

“That's not spelt out anywhere in their draft document.”

Wooli Public School principal Heather Wright said the school had been an award-winning part of the Keep Australia Beautiful Young Legends Clean Beach Challenge for eight years.

In 2006 the school was the NSW winner of the challenge.

“Most of the children at the school have been taking part in the dune care program all the time they have been at school,” she said.

“We've tried to embed the environmental practices into their whole curriculum,” she said.

“They learn that they can do something about a practical problem and fight back against dune erosion.”

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