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Wooli must retreat: plan

SES volunteer driver Farron Young, Clarence Valley Council environmental planning co-ordinator Scott Lenton and council manager of strategic planning Dave Morrison take a look at sand dune at One Tree, Wooli during the 2009 floods. A draft management plan for Wooli village suggests residents should retreat from the area rather than try to stablise it.
SES volunteer driver Farron Young, Clarence Valley Council environmental planning co-ordinator Scott Lenton and council manager of strategic planning Dave Morrison take a look at sand dune at One Tree, Wooli during the 2009 floods. A draft management plan for Wooli village suggests residents should retreat from the area rather than try to stablise it. Erin Brady

THE original Wooli village could be left uninhabited and to fall into the sea if a proposed policy of planned retreat is adopted by the Clarence Valley Council and other government agencies.

A draft management plan for Wooli village prepared by environmental consultants WorleyParsons suggests because of the threat of erosion to homes along the Wooli foreshore, a policy of progressive retreat from the coast, and in the long-term, retreat from the site of the original Wooli village, be adopted.

The draft policy includes the possibility of land owners in the foreshore area swapping properties with Crown Land near the Wooli Sports Ground.

But Wooli Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Bird said the draft, if implemented, would devastate the village and urged the council to consider other options.

He said lines in the draft plan indicated everything south of the Wooli Bowling Club, including the Wooli Public School, could be sacrificed.

Mr Bird said the council seemed intent on a policy of retreat, because that was the only option it was presenting.

“The preferred position of the chamber of commerce is that council needs to adopt a policy of defence,” he said.

“That would involve managing and maintaining the dunes to stop erosion. There is great anxiety and angst. Property owners are very concerned there is only one option on the table.”

He said most believed the council could do a lot more to protect properties.

“If there’s erosion in Yamba, they will get out there and fix it straight away,” he said.

“Here we have had 15 years of inaction.

“Development controls is all there has been. There have been many times when the council could have accessed State Government funds for remedial work.”

He said the council needed to accept at least some responsibility for the threat it says is now impacting on landowners.

“Who in the end becomes responsible?” he said.

“Who approved these developments in the first place?

“If someone approved these developments, someone is responsible. In Europe they have faced this problem for hundreds of years and they are being successful.”

He said the possibility of a land swap was farcical.

“They haven’t spoken to the State Government (which owns the land) about it and it would only be leasehold anyway,” he said.

One long-term resident, who did not wish to be named, said erosion of the dunes was cyclical. She said the council needed to consider measures to protect the dunes.

Those included improvements to beach access so people didn’t simply climb down dunes, and policing measures to stop people damaging dunes.

“We don’t want to retreat, we want them to restore,” she said.

Mr Bird encouraged people to make submissions to the council before the closing date on October 22.



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