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National spotlight on Yamba developments

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The plight of Yamba residents whose homes are shaking and cracking from excavators moving and trucks carrying fill into floodplain development sites will be broadcast to a national audience following a visit by A Current Affair last Wednesday.

Concerned residents and members of the Yamba Community Action Network Yamba CAN Inc. greeted the reporter and camera crew on March 27 in Park Avenue, Yamba, displaying “Stop The Fill” signs, while chanting “Stop The Fill, Don’t Drown Our Town.”

The group explained the devastating 2022 floods which saw 532mm of rain fall in Yamba on February 28 and March 1, leaving supermarkets out of food and residents isolated for a week.

Yamba CAN Inc. Secretary, Lynne Cairns said the “Parkside” 136 manufactured home development site will feature fill levels of up to 4.45 metres AHD (above sea level) along the southern boundary, with a central drainage tank to hold stormwater on the 6.62-hectare site.

Fears are the tank won’t have the capacity to cope during heavy rain, resulting on stormwater and/or floodwater impacting neighbouring residents worse than in 2022.

“On February 28, 2022, there was 274mm of rain in 24 hours, that is not unprecedented, it impacted all of the neighbouring properties here,” she said.

“The water just kept on rising and coming up, even through the floorboards and into their homes, and now some of their piers are dropping underneath.

“In March 1999, there was 300mm in 24 hours and the reason why it didn’t effect anybody, there was no flooding inundation into homes was because there was no fill on the floodplain at that time.”

The group appealed to the NSW Premier Chris Minns and the state government to stop permitting development on floodplains, explaining to A Current Affair that “Parkside” was only the “tip of the iceberg” of developments in Yamba.

Valley Watch Member, Helen Tyas Tunggal said in 2007 and 2008, council commissioned a floodplain study and floodplain risk management plan, which was unanimously adopted by council in 2009, but hasn’t been adequately implemented.

She said a big problem was that flood studies done of the area are only based on riverine flooding, and don’t include stormwater, which has become a huge problem since floodplains were filled for developments.

“There were actions in that plan that could have prevented this happening, but it has not been implemented, and we cannot understand why,” she said.

“Some of the actions were, that there was supposed to be more thorough rigorous hydrology and environmental assessments before any development was approved, the fill was supposed to be monitored for any ongoing or cumulative effects…it has not happened.

“In that plan it states it is imperative that any additional development does not exacerbate the existing flood problem, and there were warnings that if it went ahead there would be problems with flooding.”

During the 2022 flood, Mrs Cairns said she got a video of a 15cm bream swimming in the front yard of a Yamba home.

“When the floodwaters came two days after the stormwater, fish were coming up their drains, at the back of their houses, as it does when there’s a king tide,” she said.

The A Current Affair crew also visited several homes along Yamba Road, hearing of the experiences of residents adjacent to the Park Avenue development site.

Clarence Valley Independent 3 April 2024

This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 3 April 2024.

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