Councillors gagged, say NSW Greens

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann. Jerad Williams

NORTH Coast councillors have been gagged from challenging significant changes to the state's coastal management policy, according to the NSW Greens.

Under the O'Farrell Government's revised coastal management bill, the current sea level rise zones local planning departments refer to when assessing applications will be replaced by a new model.

There are also concerns the changes could have a significant impact on the council's ability to protect local beaches and regulate the sandbagging of waterfront properties.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has called for the bill to be taken off the table for six months.

She believes the State Government is "rushing" the bill through parliament at a time when North Coast councils are still in "caretaker mode" and unable have their say.

In a letter sent to Premier Barry O'Farrell Environment Minister Robyn Parker yesterday, Ms Faehrmann said a six-month delay was the "only way to ensure credible consultation with the most important stakeholders - local government" had occurred.

Along with the impact the bill could have on beaches, Ms Faehrmann claimed there were also "serious questions" being raised about the North Coast council's ability to plan for a sea level rise in a "sensible manner" and the potential for increased insurance liabilities.

"This will force local government down a path of ad-hoc coastal protection measures," Ms Faehrmann said "The ad hoc approach to coastal management the bill embraces will be of enormous concern to councils along our North Coast and their voices should be heard."

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