Levy for NSW coastal residents
May 21, 2010
Residents of coastal properties in NSW will be forced to pay special coastal protection levies in threatened areas and other states will certainly watch the results.
The legislation would enable owners of threatened properties to take emergency measures to protect their own properties for the first time, and open the door for councils to impose coastal protection levies.
The emergency measures include permitting sandbagging where severe erosion results from storms or “an extreme or irregular event” or when such beach erosion is imminent.
“If you live near the sea, you have to pay the price,” Ed Blakely, the leader of the sea change research program for the National Sea Change Taskforce, said at a seminar yesterday.
Professor Blakely, an American, works at the US Studies Centre at Sydney University. He oversaw the reconstruction of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.
The president of the Local Government and Shires Associations, Genia McCaffery, said: “We remain concerned about the ability of local councils to deal with climate change and rising sea levels.”
At the seminar yesterday she argued the federal government should have overriding responsibility for the issue.
The executive officer of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Geoff Withycombe, said: “Emergency work for the individual property should be the responsibility of that property owner but large-scale works for a beach should be [funded] across the rate base.
“The [proposed] legislation relates solely to the property owner but the levy area should be broadened.”
Cr McCaffery said councils had raised with the government the possibility of imposing a levy on all ratepayers of coastal councils for protection measures.
“There is a bit of tension around that,” she said.
Mr Withycombe said at the seminar that, while individual properties might need works to be undertaken to protect them, “we need to look at the bigger picture”.
He cited problems at Byron Bay, where a number of properties had already been lost to the advancing sea front. “Coastal retreat” – leaving nature to run its course – was the only way to proceed “over time as those threats emerge from climate change”, he said.