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Jan 6, 2014

Council global warming planning decisions suffer court setback

Local authorities in Australia have been moving increasingly towards becoming another arm of big government, micro managing local affairs.  One area they have entered with gusto is including hat tips to big eco in planning decisions.
Woe betide any resident with a tree threatening his house that is deemed to be ‘of significant biodiversity value’.  Old houses that have gone through a number of evolutions in the last century must not change in any renovation beyond some time in the past deemed appropriate by cultural censors, and must not have anything modern done with them.
The latest plaything of councils is to plan for global warming induced sea level changes with building restrictions on waterfront property.
A recent court decision may provide some relief
A NSW judgment has castigated a local council that permitted a couple to build a house on a beachfront plot, on condition they tore it down in 20 years assuming UN predictions of sea-level rise and coastal erosion come true. 
NSW Land and Environment Court senior commissioner Tim Moore struck down the condition, saying in his judgment that Great Lakes Council had held a "Damoclean sword" over Greg and Lesley Newton, who had sought to build on a vacant block at Jimmys Beach on the mid-north coast of NSW. 
The judgment has been hailed by a lobby group representing coastal home owners in the region, who are facing similar "time-limited consents" based on dire UN International Panel on Climate Change predictions of rising sea levels. 
It comes when, as revealed by The Australian, the NSW government, infuriated that some coastal councils are unquestioningly adopting the IPCC predictions and imposing often severe planning restrictions, is preparing to issue instructions for them to apply common sense.It is a victory for the deputy mayor of Great Lakes Council, Len Roberts, who led a minority of councillors against a majority headed by Mayor Jan McWilliams who voted to impose the time-limited consent on the Newtons. 
Commissioner Moore struck down Condition 7 in the development approval, which was limited to a period of 20 years, at which point the owners would have to hire a consultant to re-examine coastal hazards. Unless the council decided sea-level change and coastal erosion were not developing as predicted, the owners would have to abandon the house. …
Council climate change planning decisions are based on the precautionary principle in the wake of the sort of climate modeling that inspired a group of climate scientists to get caught in Antarctic sea ice that according to modeling, wasn’t supposed to be there, costing millions for their rescue.
While it is reasonable to prevent residential building under known flood levels, it is idiotic to base decisions on what are essentially unproven theories promulgated by the same sort of people who were predicting a CO2 based ice age back in the 70s.
Much of the issue of building approvals could be handled by the private sector. In order to get finance to put up a building, it is first necessary to make the banks feel secure by having insurance.  If the owner cannot convince any company to issue a policy on the construction, it simply will not be built unless the proposer is able to pay for it and take the risk of losing it.

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