Wooli welcomes new coast plans

WOOLI is one of many communities along the New South Wales coast facing an uncertain future due to coastal erosion and the likelihood of rising sea levels over coming years.

Earlier this week the NSW Government announced significant changes to the way the coast will be managed, giving more freedom to landowners to protect their properties from erosion and dropping the previous government's statewide sea level rise planning benchmarks.

The announcement made by Special Minister of State Chris Hartcher also indicated local councils would have the freedom to consider local conditions when determining future hazards.

While the details of the proposed changes are yet to be seen in legislation, President of Wooli's Coastal Community Protection Alliance Inc Bruce Bird welcomed the announcement as a positive step for all land owners on the east coast.

"We haven't seen the detail yet but there's indications that land holders will have more opportunity to defend their land (against the threat of coastal erosion)," Mr Bird said.

"Perhaps it's too early to tell, but it appears there's more certainty for residents than in the previous 12 months."

Mr Bird said locally the alliance had been working closely with Clarence Valley Council to undertake a major revision of Wooli's Coastal Zone Management Plan which was due to be delivered to the State government by the end of 2012.

The plan aims to address concerns about projected rise in sea levels over the coming century, as well as the constant threat of coastal erosion and the affect this will have on communities such as Wooli, Brooms Head, and Yamba.

Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder was also keen to see the detail of the reforms and said the council would continue working with the Wooli community to develop a coastal management plan, although he said it appeared that coastal councils would be given an additional twelve months to make their submission.

"The general perception among local governments is the NSW government is seeking to shift the risk to local councils," said Mr Schroder.

"I think there's a lot of debate to come, but in the meantime we'll keep on working to finalise the plan with the community.

"It's in the interest of everyone to get the plan completed as soon as possible."

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