Saturday, February 28, 2009

Australian hamlet plans to develop flood plain

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia): The holiday hamlet of Yamba is one step closer to a huge development project that will turn a flood plain at the mouth of the Clarence River into a busy residential area. The Clarence Valley Council voted this week to adopt a local environment plan to rezone the 690-hectare West Yamba site in the northern NSW town.

Plans to turn the land into a residential area are advancing even though coastal design policies caution against building on land subject to rising sea levels and floods. The NSW Government's draft sea level rise policy envisages a rise of 90 centimetres by 2100. Some scientists are predicting even greater rises.

…A flood-risk management plan prepared for council identified difficulties evacuating residents during floods, and uncertainty about the possible effects of rising sea levels. It also required 1.3 million cubic metres of landfill to be trucked in and the town's sewerage system to be upgraded.

…The original proposal was changed to a lower density than some developers were demanding, and includes a larger buffer zone between the water and housing. But these compromises were not enough to satisfy green groups in northern NSW, who have long argued that building on the swamp would not only destroy the sensitive wetland ecology but also leave residents susceptible to the effects of climate change.

A wetland ecologist with the Regional Alliance for Sustainable Planning on the Mid North Coast, Mark Graham, warned the consequences for residents could be dire. "If we learned anything from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans it's that infilling wetlands creates all sorts of risks to residents," he said…

\Grafton Bridge over Clarence River showing Bascule span lifted to let shipping through. "Southern Cross" aeroplane has been added to the photograph - Grafton, NSW Date of Work : c 1932

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