NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes hasn’t been in his job long but is already making waves for coastal communities.
Our sympathies go out to the community at Old Bar (near Taree) faced with not only a major erosion problem but now the Minister’s recent decision to reject their council’s proposal for a protective rock wall.
With a $50 million price tag this wall was always going to be a tough sell.
But for the Old Bar and Taree-coast communities this latest report in their local paper about the Minister’s alternative proposal of Planned Retreat for the whole of the Taree coastline was every bit as tough.
The community at Lake Cathie, an hour’s drive north of Old Bar, must be monitoring these developments closely as their own coastal erosion decision looms. As you can see from this report Minister Stokes has clearly said (my italics not his)
“….the community should not see the Old Bar decision as a precedent. “The whole point of our approach to coastal erosion and integrated coastal management is that every embayment [coastline recess] is different,…..the government would make decisions based on rational evidence and a thorough assessment of the environmental, social and economic consequences of the plans which councils put forward.”
In fact, it’s a fair bet that residents all along the NSW coast will be watching the Minister’s impending decision for Lake Cathie to see if he is true to his words. Will Lake Cathie get a decision based on rational evidence or will this decision be another plank in a policy of planned-retreat-by-stealth? As always with politicians, the proof of the pudding will be in his actions not his words.