POLL: Call to remove sea-level rise notices

 MORE than 250 residents have demanded the removal of Lake Macquarie City Council’s controversial sea level rise and flooding maps and notations, amid concern they threaten $4billion worth of private property.

The call comes from accusations that the council is showing disregard to the effects its flood policies are having on people’s lives and hip-pockets, but the council maintains it is acting prudently.

Cr Jason Pauling will table at a council meeting today a call from the residents for the ‘‘immediate withdrawal’’ of the notations and maps.

Cr Pauling will ask council officials to explain the consequences of removing the notations, which the council placed on section 149 planning certificates of 10,000 properties in 2009.

‘‘The response has been too hard, too early,’’ Cr Pauling said, of the council’s sea level rise measures.

A council statement said it was ‘‘obliged by law to note on property certificates known risks relating to property’’.

‘‘Council has a duty of care to record development controls related to these risks on the section 149(2) certificate,’’ the statement said.

Coastal Residents president Len Gibbons said the council had ‘‘failed in its duty of care to act in the best interests of all Lake Macquarie residents’’.

Mr Gibbons alleged the council had ‘‘completely disregarded the well-being of residents and ratepayers’’.

He said the notations had been ‘‘encoded with flood information that includes the most extreme sea level rise projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’’.

He said this was ‘‘incomprehensible and highly damaging to communities’’.

The New York Times reported last week that a draft of the panel’s next big report found sea levels could ‘‘conceivably rise by more than 90centimetres by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace’’.

The report cautioned that while climate predictions could be made ‘‘with some confidence on a global scale, the coming changes still cannot be forecast reliably on a local scale’’. 

The council statement said it removed last year ‘‘the specific reference to sea level rise on section 149(2) certificates’’, as this ‘‘future risk’’ was incorporated into flooding hazard references.

The statement said most properties in low-lying parts of the city ‘‘have had a flood risk notation since 1997 or before’’.

‘‘There has been no change in the number of foreshore properties with flood notations (which includes sea level rise) since 2009.’’

As previously reported, real estate agents say property values have dropped in the Belmont to Swansea area recently because ‘‘banks and lending authorities are tightening up on lending’’ for affected properties.

Cr Pauling alleged the council administration was ‘‘not aware of the effect this is having on real people on the ground who live in these areas’’.

‘‘The council does not seem able to state the economic and social effects of its decisions,’’ he said.

In response, the council said it ‘‘feels it is appropriate for councillors to express opinions and debate issues in public and on the chamber floor’’.

‘‘Council has produced a significant body of work on... measures to respond to sea level rise,’’ it said.

Cr Pauling said $4billion of private property in Lake Macquarie was under threat, considering 10,000 properties with an average value of about $400,000 had the controversial notations.

 No sign in 60 years, says Ken

 SWANSEA resident Ken Hoff has seen little indication that water levels in Lake Macquarie have been rising, despite council records showing a small rise.

Mr Hoff has lived in the area for more than 60 years and now resides on the waterfront at Black Neds Bay.

‘‘As far as I’m concerned, there’s been a very minimal increase in the lake’s height, if any,’’ Mr Hoff said.

Concerns about the lake rising by up to 90 centimetres by 2100 were an ‘‘absolute furphy at this stage’’, he said.

‘‘They should forget what will happen in the year 2100, until they get more concrete evidence.’’

Scientists predict sea levels to rise exponentially over time.

Lake Macquarie City Council records show the lake had risen an average of 2.6millimetres a year at Belmont from May 1986 to December 2011.

Mr Hoff said the council should consider ‘‘how they can reduce the volume of stormwater from going into the lake’’ and ‘‘how to disperse water from the lake more quickly into the ocean’’.

‘‘Let’s look at the immediate things that can be done to rectify the situation in the event of a lot of rain in this catchment,’’ he said.

‘‘It is the stormwater that creates the flooding.’’

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