More than five months after major flooding in the Hawkesbury area residents are still waiting for a more streamlined approval process to enable repairs to riverbanks to go ahead.
Hawkesbury City Council is urging the State Government to get a move on, saying delays in establishing such a process is leading to hardship among affected residents and has also resulted in unauthorised works being carried out to properties and the river.
Hawkesbury City Mayor Patrick Conolly is seeking a meeting with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro to discuss the issue.
He said: “Council is calling on the State Government to hurry up and deliver what has been promised to these long- suffering residents.”
The March 2021 floods caused significant damage to riverbanks, affecting hundreds of properties along the Hawkesbury River in both Hawkesbury and The Hills Local Government Areas.
Hawkesbury City Council says the damage has led to unstable riverbanks close to homes and rural buildings, putting them at risk of further damage and making them vulnerable to future flood events.
In the aftermath of the floods, the State Government undertook substantial studies of the damage to the riverbanks to assist in the creation of a streamlined design and approval process for landowners to undertake necessary repairs on their properties.
The existing process could see landowners tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to obtain the necessary approvals.
Council says the State Government has budgeted $18 million to employ case managers across affected NSW LGAs to help speed up the application process and assist in the recovery and restoration, but this has also not yet taken place.
Mr Conolly said: “A lot of promises were made by state authorities during and immediately after the March 2021 floods, but five months on and it seems like we are no longer a high priority.
“Until this streamlined approval process is put in place, all of the normal requirements for the application and assessment of development applications for riverbank repairs still apply, and in some cases, this will require landowners spending tens of thousands of dollars on reports, and waiting for a full assessment by Councils.
“Council feels this is fundamentally unfair and not what we were led to believe would eventuate. Residents along the river have already suffered enough and shouldn’t be left in limbo facing further financial hardship while the state government dithers.
“Delays and the associated costs have resulted in unapproved works being carried out by landowners at various locations, putting the health of the river at risk. There are also concerns that the works are not being carried out according to best-practice design principles and may be at risk from failure – occasioning further property damage.”