Busi­nesses asked to move to higher ground

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS - Camp­bell Gel­lie

MUR­WILLUM­BAH busi­ness own­ers have been asked to pack up shop and move to a new in­dus­trial area away from the flood­plain.

Tweed Shire Coun­cil has sent let­ters to 133 landown­ers ask­ing for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est for its Land Swap pro­gram.

South Mur­willum­bah in­dus­trial busi­nesses were in­un­dated with wa­ter when Ex-trop­i­cal Cy­clone Deb­bie caused ma­jor flood­ing in the Tweed River catch­ment in March last year.

Coun­cil’s gen­eral man­ager Troy Green said many busi­nesses went “to the wall” while oth­ers would not sur­vive a sim­i­lar catas­tro­phe.

He said the coun­cil was told it could not build a levy to pro­tect the busi­nesses “be­cause they are on the wrong side of the river”.

“The best thing we can do is get busi­nesses out of the flood­plain,” Mr Green said.

The coun­cil has bought land 4km from the town cen­tre at an area known as In­dus­try Cen­tral and is of­fer­ing landown­ers a swap.

Flood-prone busi­nesses with sheds, ware­houses and build­ings will be of­fered 20 per cent more land to make up for los­ing their struc­tures. They will also be of­fered 10 years to tran­si­tion to the new area and in­fra­struc­ture charges for the con­struc­tion of new build­ings will be waived.

But for the 133 landown­ers, the coun­cil has only be­tween 15-20 places at the new es­tate. Mr Green said a se­lec­tion panel would choose landown­ers whose cur­rent sites acted like dam walls dur­ing a flood.

Coun­cil land de­vel­op­ment project man­ager Ray Mus­grave said the pro­gram would mit­i­gate against fu­ture floods.

“The sec­ond ob­jec­tive is to stim­u­late the econ­omy … (as it is) es­ti­mated the money mul­ti­plier from the $6.6 mil­lion in­vest­ment will be about $20 mil­lion,” he said.

But busi­ness own­ers are hes­i­tant about mov­ing be­cause of the cost of build­ing new work­shops and the dis­tance to the CBD.

Cr Pryce All­sop, whose home­wares busi­ness is in the flood zone, said the prob­lem was get­ting busi­nesses to re­build their in­fra­struc­ture.

“We are pro­cras­ti­nat­ing and have to de­cide whether it is fi­nan­cially ben­e­fi­cial for us to leave,” he said.

JH Wil­liams build­ing sup­plies com­pany man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Bruce Wil­liams said he backed the coun­cil’s plan.

“As for the costs with re­lo­cat­ing, we are look­ing at the longer term ben­e­fits to re­coup those costs,” he said.

The coun­cil will hold an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion at its Mur­willum­bah of­fice on De­cem­ber 11 at 5pm.

PHOTO: TWEED SHIRE COUN­CIL

FLOOD: The in­dus­trial area in South Mur­willum­bah was in­un­dated with wa­ter af­ter Cy­clone Deb­bie dropped a del­uge in the Tweed River catch­ment in 2017.

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