Blue Mountains City Council Mayor Mark Greenhill said raising the wall would damage cultural and heritage sites in the historic area.
“A better solution is to stop building in the floodplain,” he said. “Further development in the floodplains is pure madness. What we should be looking at is investing in downstream flood control measures such as levees or diversions, good escape routes and the potential for voluntary real estate repurchases in areas that are not being made safe to live in due to climate change.
The population of flood-prone areas in Sydney is expected to explode in the coming years. Areas in Sydney’s northwest have a target of building 33,000 new homes by 2026 in the boroughs of Blacktown, The Hills Shire and Hawkesbury, while the southwest boroughs of Camden, Campbelltown and Liverpool have similar goals.
The report recommended that the government prepare a contingency plan for every city and village, with planning tools that discourage and in many cases prohibit development in disaster-prone areas.
It also found that future developments in the area should include assessments of existing and anticipated risks, ensuring that flood risk management aligns with the economic and social needs of the community and greater infrastructure resilience.
The government has said it accepts the report’s findings.
Hawkesbury-Nepean resident Suzette Turner, who lives in Shanes Park about 30 miles west of Sydney, has experienced four floods in the past two years.
During the events of March and July, she lost almost everything and two months later she said her family was still dealing with the disaster.
“It’s devastating, I want to give up. We are so exhausted and tired. Financially it ruined us, emotionally we are broken, I don’t know if we can do another flood, I don’t know how we will survive,” she said.
“We have considered leaving the area, but the housing crisis is in such a bad situation, where are we going? We are stuck.
“Every time we hear the rain, we panic.”
She said the nearby development had exacerbated the flood risk, with even a few days of heavy rain closing roads through Shanes Park.
Turner said they struggled to get any compensation from the government.
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