Lake Macquarie's sea level notations locked in

FIERY RALLY: Wyong councillors Greg Best (left) and Doug Eaton with protesters who heard that the cost of homes in the shire would skyrocket as a result of proposed sea level rise measures.
FIERY RALLY: Wyong councillors Greg Best (left) and Doug Eaton with protesters who heard that the cost of homes in the shire would skyrocket as a result of proposed sea level rise measures.

UNLIKE Gosford City Council, Lake Macquarie City Council is legally unable to remove controversial sea level rise notations from its s149 (2) certificates, even if it wanted to.

Gosford City Council made headlines by recently removing sea level rise notations from its s149 certificates.

It followed an outcry from angry home owners who said the notations were increasing insurance premiums and devaluing their properties.

Similar criticisms have been made of LMCC's sea level rise notations.

But a spokesperson for Gosford City Council said the only reason that it removed the notation was because, unlike LMCC, it had the legal freedom to do it.

"We had the legal ability to remove the notations because our council has yet to implement relevant planning controls," the spokesperson said.

"We are in a wait-and-see process for the government to finalise its ministerial reviews on the subject but, basically, we are on the same road as Lake Macquarie Council."

LMCC has pioneered coastal property protection and was at the forefront of 55 coastal councils covered by the NSW government's requirements to be ready to cope with rising sea levels.

Only 16 councils, including LMCC, have to date introduced relevant planning controls.

LMCC adopted its Lake Macquarie Sea Level Rises Preparedness plan in 2008.

It began implementing development controls over land blocks it had identified as being subject to inundation from all flooding causes including rising sea levels.

"The development controls affect approximately 10,000 land blocks of which 75 per cent are privately owned and the remainder is public land," an LMCC spokesperson said.

"The law is that any land subject to these development controls must have the fact notated on the 149 (2) certificate. That's the certificate most buyers require.

"The notation isn't about flooding per se, it's to show that the subject property is covered by specific development conditions."

Wyong Shire Council is also yet to implement planning controls and is under pressure to resist adding "damaging" notations to the s149 certificates for its estimated 10,000 waterfront properties.

Wyong councillors Greg Best and Doug Eaton attended a fiery rally in Wyong Town Park last weekend where they told a 200-strong crowd that the sea level rise measures, which included building levels a metre above current 1:100-year flood levels, will cost the community millions of dollars without compensation.

"This is a greater rort than the infamous Y2K Bug scare and an excuse for insurance companies to price gouge," Cr Best said.

Cr Eaton said the measure will add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home on affected lots.

A NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure spokesperson confirmed that councils have the discretion to list advice on a number of relevant matters affecting a parcel of land on a section 149(5) planning certificate.

The inclusion of advice on a section 149(5) certificate is a matter for individual councils.

Planning legislation requires some specific items to be included on councils' section 149(2) planning certificates.

"As Lake Macquarie Council has implemented development controls for sea level rise in its Lake Macquarie Sea Level Rise Preparedness Adaptation Policy, the council is required to include notations on section 149(2) certificates for affected lots," the spokesperson said.

"Gosford Council does not currently impose development controls for sea level rise and, as such, there is no specific requirement for sea level rise to be listed on the section 149(2) certificate."