HIGHER GROUND: Byron environmentalist Dailan Pugh warns council their Climate Emergency planning is inadequate.
HIGHER GROUND: Byron environmentalist Dailan Pugh warns council their Climate Emergency planning is inadequate. Christian Morrow

LETTER: Dire warning on sea level rise in Byron CBD

LOCAL environmental campaigner Dailan Pugh AOM has castigated Byron Shire Council over what he says is their poor planning for future climate events that could threaten Byron's CBD.

Proposed Changes to Planning Rules are on public display until next Friday November 15.

He even suggests the entire town centre may need to be moved to higher ground to meet threats from climate change.

IN an open letter to Byron Shire News Mr Pugh said despite declaring a Climate Emergency council has relied on flood level modelling it's own consultant described as "fundamentally flawed."

With the centre of Byron Bay just 2 metres above the mean sea level, and the climate deteriorating rapidly Mr Pugh said a key question is whether the centre of town should be walled in to prevent inundation from Belongil Creek or moved to higher ground.

Mr Pugh writes:

"BYRON Shire Council currently has on exhibition proposed planning controls for their Byron Bay Town Centre Plan," Mr Pugh said.

"Given that Council has declared a climate emergency I am disappointed that they have not recognised the precarious position of the town centre due to rising seas and duly accounted for this in their planning.

"The centre of town is only 2m above mean sea level, and far less during high tides, and sea-levels are rising fast due to climate warming.

"Due to the accelerated melting of ice masses at the poles there is now a recognised probability that seas could rise by over 2m by the end of this century, though it may be only be over 1m. Given the inevitability of rising seas it is only a matter of time until 2m is exceeded. Storm surges raise sea levels significantly above this.

"The town centre is threatened in the short term by coastal attack during storms and flood waters backing up in the Belongil estuary into the town centre.

"To me the key question that needs to be resolved now is whether in the long-term we are going to wall the town centre to prevent the ingress of the sea and estuary (and pump out floodwaters), and thereby allow for the increased development proposed (and more car parks below sea level) or relocate it over time to higher ground.

"I am alarmed that the only apparent consideration of rising seas is modelled flood levels at 2050 based on a sea-level rise of 0.4m. The model used has been identified by Council's own consultants as fundamentally flawed and under-estimating resulting flooding in the Belongil in extreme weather events.

"In this climate emergency Council needs to have a long-term strategy for how it is going to cope with the impacts of rising sea-levels and increasing floods on the town centre, and begin now to adapt its planning to facilitate this. The proposal to simply allow for taller buildings is untenable.

"PS Simon, I have made numerous detailed submissions on the folly of only using a sea-level rise of 0.4m for planning to Council for over a decade.

Dailan Pugh

Byron Bay


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