McCloy to mount climate class action against council

Jeff McCloy at his Belmont home.
Jeff McCloy at his Belmont home.

HUNTER businessman Jeff McCloy says he will mount a class action against Lake Macquarie City Council for devaluing waterfront properties with its climate change policy.

Mr McCloy, who owns a waterfront property at Belmont, said the council must explain what scientific evidence it had to back up its claims about rising sea levels and the effects of climate change.

‘‘My current view is they will have a class action against them for reducing the value of our properties,’’ Mr McCloy said. ‘‘I figure I’ll get a class action going and take the idiots to court, I’m serious.’’

As reported in the Newcastle Herald a fortnight ago, a council study found that almost 10,000 Lake Macquarie properties would be flood-prone by 2100 because of rising sea levels.

Mr McCloy said he had received a letter from the council on Wednesday about the matter.

He planned to respond with his own letter to the council.

‘‘I’ll put them on notice and ask what evidence they have to make these ridiculous claims,’’ he said.

‘‘We have the right to know the scientific basis for their claims and whether they are using theoretical models that have no definitive way of determining the future.’’

Lake Macquarie mayor Greg Piper said the council did not need evidence but a ‘‘basis’’.

‘‘The basis is in concert with policy developed by the state government and the Commonwealth,’’ Cr Piper said.

‘‘Jeff, in my view, is being silly on this one. I have a lot of time for Jeff, but that doesn’t mean he’s right on everything.’’

Cr Piper said the council had to ‘‘apply the precautionary principle on what we’re told is the best science’’.

A council statement said the science on sea level rise was based on ‘‘global sea level satellite measurements and tide gauge data’’.

‘‘The data is analysed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the CSIRO to make projections,’’ the statement said.

Mr McCloy will air his criticisms of the way governments and councils have handled climate change at the Hunter Business Chamber’s annual general meeting in Newcastle today.

Mr McCloy said he was unhappy with a report that Climate Change Minister and Charlton MP Greg Combet released last week about climate change.

The report said that by 2030 about 6316 hectares of built areas in the Newcastle council area and 2022 hectares of the Lake Macquarie council area would be vulnerable to combined sea level rise and flood extremes.

Mr McCloy pointed out that the federally funded report included a disclaimer that said it ‘‘does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government, or indicate a commitment to a particular course of action’’.

Mr McCloy said the disclaimer appeared to suggest that ‘‘the document might be useless’’.