Calls to declare Wamberal Beach erosion a natural disaster

Photo: Klayte McSweeny, Photoslog

Central Coast Council has declared a local emergency and given direction on what emergency work residents at Wamberal and North Entrance can do on private property in the wake of the erosion from the week’s events.

Residents now have assurance that Council will not take regulatory action for emergency work carried out at those two locations only and the work has to have been designed and approved by a qualified coastal engineer.

The works also need to be certified as not likely to have significant adverse impacts on other land and only that which is reasonably required to protect the property.

The time frame for the works is limited to four weeks.

The decisions were made at an extraordinary Council meeting on July 20, called to update the community and councillors on the coastal erosion impact resulting from a low pressure system that stretched from Merimbula to Port Stephens.

Cr Chris Holstein put up a 13 point recommendation and the two hour meeting was spent mainly refining the direction to residents about emergency work.

The public screening of the meeting was adjourned at one point as legal advice was sought.

When the meeting resumed, CEO Mr Murphy suggested the following words be added: “that council is not approving such work as it is not the consent authority and not representing that such works will be effective to protect the subject property or not adversely affect other properties”.

This was adopted along with another point explaining that all such works would be carried out at the expense of affected residents.

The 13 point motion was eventually adopted by unanimous vote.

Council acknowledged the distress of residents impacted by the severe weather and the work of the Local Emergency Operations Controller in coordinating the response of State Emergency Services, Council and other government agencies to the situation.

“The work on the ground is a collaborative approach from all government agencies involved, particularly the SES, Department of Public Works, Department of Family and Community Services, NSW Fire and Rescue, council staff and other key emergency services,” the adopted motion read.

Council asked for a full list of regulatory responsibilities of each of the government agencies involved and called on the State Government to declare a natural disaster (as opposed to a local emergency) as that would mean more assistance for residents and access to funding for council.

Council called for a meeting with the NSW Premier and relevant ministers to fast track and “resolve agreed actions”.

It requested an update from the NSW Government on the Wamberal Beach Management Options: Cost Benefit and Distribution Analysis Report finalised in August 2017 including fast tracking the recommendations from that report.

It also requested a status update on the Coastal Management Plan.

Cr Holstein said the councillors needed to commit to a long term solution and be prepared to see it through.

Merilyn Vale