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Clarence Valley Council has deferred placing interim flood levels from the Lower Clarence Flood Model 2022 on public exhibition until a workshop is held for councillors and a communication plan is devised. Image: file photo

Council defer Lower Clarence Flood Model 2022

The public exhibition of the 2022 Lower Clarence Flood Model has been deferred by Clarence Valley Council at its September 2023 meeting to allow a workshop to be held so councillors understand the impacts and a plan can be developed to convey the information to the community.

Council engaged consultants Jeremy Benn Pacific to conduct a high-level review and validation of the Lower Clarence Flood Model Update 2022 LCFM 2022, which the Department of Planning and Environment advised “the review did not significantly alter the model”, which was adopted by council at is June 2023 meeting.

At the September 26 council meeting, Cr Karen Toms moved an alternate motion to defer a decision on placing the LCFM 2022 on public exhibition, which was seconded by Cr Debrah Novak.

“Point one: that council defer consideration of the impact of the LCFM 2022 on flood planning levels for future property development pending a workshop where the Communications Plan for public exhibition is discussed.

“Point two: receive a report to the ordinary October 2023 council meeting on item 1.”

Cr Ian Tiley then foreshadowed moving the council officer’s recommendation which recommended noting the LCFM 2022, modifying Floodplain Management Controls in council’s Development Control Plans, and placing the interim flood planning levels on public exhibition for 28 days.

Cr Novak then asked council’s Director of Environment and Planning, Adam Cameron if there was a problem with deferring the item for a month, to which he replied he was comfortable with the deferral to allow it to be discussed with councillors at a workshop.

Speaking for her motion, Cr Toms said the LCFM 2022 was “a huge change” and she was concerned it would cause a lot of interest once it becomes known.

“Because it suggests planning levels out to 100 years, Climate Change planning levels out to 2123, I want to ensure that our community understands what this will mean if we adopt,” she said.

“We need to get out to our community the consequences of those decisions in terms of development.

“What it means is we are probably going to have difficulties building slab on ground homes without putting lots of fill on a block.”

Cr Toms said the LCFM 2022 identified some areas of West Yamba where fill has been imported and the hill at Yamba as the only areas that wouldn’t be classed as flood prone under the model.

Speaking against Cr Tom’s motion, Cr Tiley said council had been told that the review didn’t significantly alter the flood model and the expert floodplain committee had voted to put the LCFM 2022 on public exhibition for 28 days.

Cr Tiley argued the LCFM could go on public exhibition for 60 days to allow the community time to understand it, and councillors didn’t have the expertise to go against the expert recommendations.

Speaking for the motion, Cr Greg Clancy said he was concerned if the LCFM 2022 was adopted it could lead to more fill in Yamba and create further problems for existing residents.

Cr Toms said by deferring the motion both councillors and the community will get the opportunity to understand what the LCFM 2022 means on the ground for Yamba, and when staff deliver a communication plan it will define the experts’ council should engage to convey the information to the public.

“Let’s talk about how we are going to get this information out to the public and make sure everyone understands before we make the final decision of interim flood planning levels in our DCP (Development Control Plan),” she said.

The motion was carried eight votes to one, with Cr Tiley voting against.

Rodney Stevens