by Karen Thorne
Angry Sylvania Waters residents have formed a Shire FloodWatch committee in response to the Sutherland Shire Council’s decision to label their homes ‘potentially flood prone’.
Garry Lynton, a founder of the Shire FloodWatch committee, says “The Council has zoned Sylvania Waters as a potential flood-risk prone area by changing section 149 Certificates, without residents knowledge.” A Section 149 Certificate is required when a property is redeveloped or sold, and is in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Mr Lynton is also worried about the rise in house insurance premiums.
The amendment to the certificate now reads: The land has been identified as potentially flood prone based on Council’s initial assessment of major flooding. Further investigation will be required and possibly a flood study, to determine the level of flood risk on this land.
The Sutherland Shire council commenced a flood study in 2009. However it has not announced when the study would be completed.
David Grieg, a local real estate agent, believes “I think the Council has made sure it is safe by changing everyone’s 149 Certificates. So that if a flood happens it can’t be sued.”
In relation to rising insurance premiums, Garry Lynton says his home insurance went up considerably after the changes to the Certificate were made.
However, Beth Morris, from the Council’s Environment and Planning Committee says, “We are not aware of any insurance company that solely uses the Council’s flood risk assessment.”
Sylvania Waters residents Bob and Frances Rando said they had noticed a jump in their home insurance. “The first we heard about the change in the 149 certificate was from the Shire FloodWatch committee, explaining what the Council had already done,” they say.
In its defence the Sutherland Shire Council states in the ‘Results of Public Exhibition’, a document containing community input after a proposal has gone on public display, outlining the planned changes to the 149 Certificate in the local newspaper. Also ‘a copy of the draft plan was made available in every local library in the Shire and on the internet’.
The Shire FloodWatch committee is currently disputing the matter.