Message from Shire President - Clarification on CHRMAP Social Media Misinformation

Published on Monday, 8 July 2024 at 4:39:38 PM

Please attribute information below to Shire President, Cr Wayne Fewster.

As Shire President I need to, once again, address recent commentary, accusations, and misinformation being distributed across some social media sites regarding the Shire’s Coastal Hazard Risk Management & Adaptation Plan (CHRMAP) and Coastal Management Strategy (CMS), the extent of which is causing unnecessary confusion and anxiety within our Lancelin and other coastal communities.

  1. There is no “newly created” CHRMAP. The recent agenda item presented to Council on 18 June was to adopt the amended CHRMAP to include Guilderton to the list of affected coastal townsites, and the Coastal Inundation Study prepared by coastal consultants Baird Australia (endorsed by Council in 2020). Council already has an adopted CHRMAP within its town planning framework and development application assessment process, so including the Inundation Study was the intent of the Coastal Projects Steering Committee (which comprises representatives from DPLH, DoT, Shire Councillors and staff, and consultants Shape Urban) in order that all coastal hazard information, both erosion and inundation, is presented in one document instead of two.

Those who have read the Inundation Study would understand that Lancelin is predicted to be affected by inundation, and it should be noted that this issue is not a first for the town. In the historical account “Neergabby” written by the late Bill De Burgh, it states on page 99 that following a storm in May 1890 “the sea ran into the low lying land at Lancelin leaving thousands of fish stranded”. If the predicted sea level rise of 30% is correct, then Lancelin may be impacted due to the high ground water level in the low areas of town. As the consultants have always said: “plan for the worst, hope for the best”.

With regard to the CMS, it was decided to defer adoption and undertake further consultation as it was very clear after the last round of community workshops and all the public submissions that followed that much more work was needed ie, consideration for beach access, driving on the beach, boat launching areas to name a few, for which I also have concerns. This is why the CEO’s report did not include the endorsement of the CMS.

  1. Council has never discussed closing down any of our coastal towns. While the CHRMAP outlines areas Council may need to consider in the future concerning potential risks along our coastline and in our coastal towns, we have been approving, and continue to approve, developments in the coastal towns, obviously with some conditions attached. Examples include the Lancelin South End Caravan Park and the considerable investment being made by the lessees, new home and outbuilding approvals, upgrades to parks including Cunliffe Street foreshore and Wangaree skatepark, to name a few. The Shire is also advertising a major tourism development on the corner of Gingin Road and Miragliotta Street for public comment. The proponents of this development evidently believe the issues around the CHRMAP can be managed or they would not risk the financial investment.

  2. The Shire is not pushing a “climate change agenda”. There has been much commentary around climate change and the science behind the predictions. What I do know is that if you put three climate change scientists or experts in a room, you will more than likely get three different opinions on what is right, what is wrong, and how best to deal with it.

I also understand many of you have a view and examples that contradict some of the predictions in these reports, however try telling that to the residents of Seabird who saw 150 metres of dune and roadway along with services lost on the beachfront. While this resulted in the community lobbying Government to fund the seawall construction to protect the homes at risk, it is understood the wall has a limited lifespan and the Seabird community are continuing to lobby Government to find a longer-term solution and avoid the Government’s policy of retreat. 

Another example is the erosion at Grace Darling Park which was not a problem until approximately 10-20 years ago and is now being managed through Government grants and Shire funding to renourish the beach until an alternative outcome can be found.

In the interest of clarity and transparency, there are two Councillors on the Coastal Projects Steering Committee: one who lives in one of our coastal towns affected by erosion, and the other is myself as Shire President who resides in Gingin but has had a family home in Guilderton since the early 1960s, a family farm at Seabird for about 30 years, and a holiday home in Ledge Point. This should not make a difference as all Councillors are expected to represent the whole Shire and not just the area where they live, but this issue affects me and my family as well, and I am working hard with the rest of Council and the Shire Administration to achieve the best possible outcome for the entire region.

  1. The Shire is listening to the community. Contrary to what some people are saying on social media, we have provided numerous engagement and consultation opportunities for our coastal communities to provide their input into coastal management, particularly in the last 5 years, and we are doing everything we can to help Lancelin and our other coastal town communities with this issue. This means making some difficult decisions in the best interest and safety of the entire Gingin Shire coastline with the information we have (including consideration for worse case scenarios) and the State Government parameters we are required to operate within. Councillors take their roles very seriously when making decisions and we are obliged to consider all information and submissions from both sides of the argument.

It needs to be emphasised that the CMS is not part of the CHRMAP and is a stand-alone document dealing with coastal management, and the grievances the community have raised in relation to the CMS, including 4WD access, boat launching etc, will be addressed in the near future.

In addition, the Shire has been actively lobbying State and Federal politicians to get some clarity around State Planning Policy and its implications for coastal planning, including funding for avoidance, accommodation, protection, and retreat options.

I must also point out that at the time of writing this, I have received one – only one - phone call from the community to discuss these issues and that phone call was in support of the CHRMAP process. This is despite my continued willingness and availability to have tough conversations and answer any questions the public may have.

At the 16 July Ordinary Meeting, Council will be discussing an item to consider and endorse the revised CHRMAP. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Please see links below to the minutes and appendices for last month's Council meeting.

Minutes of Ordinary Council Meeting 18 June 20204

CHRMAP Appendices

Media enquiries:

Meredith Taylor
T: (08) 9575 5150

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