Fig tree may go: Plan to “flood-proof” Moree causing angst in community
REMOVING one of Moree’s iconic fig trees at the Balo Street approach to Dr Geoffrey Hunter Bridge is just one of the confronting suggestions in a risk management plan designed to “flood-proof” Moree.
Constructing levee banks across the north of Moree are also suggestions aimed at protecting streets north of the Mehi River, further north to Yarraman and west to Greenbah and Bendygleet.
The area also includes the Moree CBD, parts of South Moree, Gwydirfield and Stonnington.
A Moree Plains Shire Council-commissioned Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan, compiled by WRM Water & Environment, has divided the community.
The report states that the fig tree may need to be removed to enable the raising of sections of Balo and Frome Streets.
A recent MPSC media release said that concerns in the community are being expressed by some property owners that information has been withheld from the public.
MPSC director of planning and development Angus Witherby stressed that no policy decisions have been made at this time, and that the reports, which are freely available, are advice to the Council. “Council now needs to start the process of responding to the recommendations in the report – which will be done hand-in-hand with the community,” Mr Witherby said.
The study is freely available for public viewing at council’s website (and also at the end of this article).
It details in length a proposed lever for north Moree, a proposal that has alarmed some sections of the Moree community.
“Council has received a number of phone calls from the community and I want to make it clear that any decision as to whether to proceed with a levee or not is some time away,” Mr Witherby said.
“The Council would first need to decide whether to seek funding for a full feasibility study for a levee, and only if the study finds a levee practical and cost-effective would council and the community then decide whether to seek State Government support for construction.”
Council said that the levee route set out in the consultants’ report is a preliminary alignment, and it would not be until a full evaluation is undertaken, including community input, that a firm recommended alignment would be established.
Concerns have also been raised about possible compulsory property purchases.
The study does not identify any land for compulsory purchase, but identifies flood-affected land that may be appropriate for voluntary purchase, which would be initiated by the landholder, not Moree Plains Shire Council, according to council.
“This is a possible approach that can be used in circumstances where flood risk is high but again, no policy position on voluntary purchase has been adopted by council at this stage,” Mr Witherby said.
Council says it is now time to consider the recommendations of the Floodplain Risk Management Study.
At the present time, no policy changes have been made by council in response to the study.
Details in relation to Council’s existing policy are available on Council’s website in Council’s
To consider the recommendations of the risk management study, council is seeking to establish a Community Reference Group which will be made up of affected residents, affected businesses, developers, professionals, councillors and senior council management.
The group will assist councillors to formulate council’s policy response to the study.
Membership will be determined through an expression of interest process.
Mayor Katrina Humphries stresses that community members need not be alarmed.
“The study gives us all the technical information and modelling about flooding in and around Moree,” Cr Humphries said.
“I understand there is a lot of concern in the community about the implications and I want to make it crystal clear – Council has not yet changed its policy in response to the study.
“A number of recommendations have been made as part of the study – it’s now for us and community members to come together and formulate a policy that balances the risk to people and property in the shire with a reasonable and sensible approach for our community.
“There’s an opportunity for concerned residents and businesses to get involved through a Community Reference Group – if you want to be involved, I encourage community members to put in an expression of interest to be part of it,” she said.
Mr Witherby encourages members of the community to attend the meeting at the Moree Memorial Hall at 6pm next Monday, September 11.
Mr Witherby also emphasised the need for the community to be part of the process.
“When council adopted the study, the councillors specifically included a resolution to ensure that council consulted with the community regarding the recommendations,” Mr Witherby said.
“This has always been on the agenda and now armed with the technical information we’re in a position to discuss those options with interested community members.
“In addition to the community reference group, council will be running a number of community workshops where the broader community can attend and become involved. We will also be undertaking publicity through letter box drops in various areas, social media and press releases,” Mr Witherby said.
Members of the public are asked to register their interest in being part of the Community Reference Group by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified of the opening of the Expression of Interest process.
This will also be advertised on council’s Facebook page and website.
The Floodplain Study and Floodplain Risk Management Study reports are at www.mpsc.nsw.gov.au
Mr Witherby also advised that large copy floodplain maps will be available at the meeting.
Members of the community can also participate in informal one-on-one sessions from 4pm to discuss individual properties with key Council staff.
No booking is required.
See the full Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan here: