Council holds fire on flood planning legislation

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Penrith Council has declined to implement reforms to floodplain planning legislation, preferring to wait until “critical” studies and flood evacuation modelling are completed.

Last year, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) exhibited amendments known as the Flood Prone Land Package, which emphasised the importance of managing flood risk up to and beyond the 1 in 100-year flood, as well as considering flood risks up to the Probable Maximum Flood level.

In its submission last year, Council told DPIE the package was premature in the absence of other related works being completed, particularly within the Hawkesbury Nepean catchment.

Despite this, DPIE proceeded with the delivery of the package, which provides for changes to NSW and local planning legislation, on July 14.

“As indicated in the report, Council believes it is prudent to wait for the release of the various bodies of work that are currently underway by Government agencies associated with the Hawkesbury Nepean catchment,” a Council spokesman said.

“We urge the various State agencies to complete and release their critical work, and to work closely with catchment Councils.”

Council officers are concerned the package potentially exposes Council to risk, and will significantly increase the number of properties that will have a flood notation applied to it.

“We must ensure that we are consistent with State flood policies in order to retain our “good faith” protection,” the Council spokesman said.

“Ambiguities in State policy and/or lack of information is concerning for Council to be able to implement the recent changes.”

According to DPIE, the updated package gives councils more flexibility to make their own informed decisions on land planning and development controls in flood-prone areas.

“We have put safety and certainty at the heart of our updated flood-prone land planning and development rules and guidelines,” a DPIE spokesman said.

“With natural disasters more frequent and severe, communities need to increase their resilience through better planning, and these changes help to do that. We’re supporting careful development of flood-prone land which puts community safety first – it’s about keeping people and property safe.”

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