Save Wooli would be the first official GetUp! campaign I have heard of which doesn’t appear to have been canvassed with members first. Or as this activist organisation now coyly plays it – joins campaign to save Wooli.
This is the opening and very inaccurate salvo in its online campaign:
Does someone senior in this activist organisation have a pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest in land or business in the Wooli area on the NSW North Coast? Or has the organisation fallen into the error that it must always have a ‘new’ campaign on offer to remain relevant with the fickle enthusiasms of mainstream media?
The Daily Examiner 27 December 2010:
LABELLING a “Save Wooli” campaign and online petition by GetUp! as “misguided”, Greens Clarence candidate Janet Cavanaugh has come out in support of Clarence Valley Council’s planned retreat proposal for Wooli.
The environmental scientist said the proposal had also been endorsed by the council’s climate change advisory committee and local environment groups.
“I am usually supportive of the progressive stance taken by GetUp! but I’m concerned by the level of misinformation being used to support this campaign,” she said.
“The proposal put forward by council is to relocate the southern residents to another area within Wooli. There is no plan to ‘abandon’ the village as claimed in the campaign.”
ABC News 28 December 2010:
The national advocacy body Get Up has launched campaign to try and block the Clarence Valley Council's proposed strategy of a 'planned retreat'.
Local candidate, Janet Cavanaugh, says the council's policy to relocate residents to other areas of the village is the only 'realistic' approach.
"I would have expected from Get Up that they would have actually consulted with their local members before taking on what is a very complicated issue," she said.
"I disagree with the fact that they are criticising the planned retreat as a legitimate form of climate change adaptation.
"They're calling for alternatives, though the campaign is extremely vague on what those alternatives should be."
Ms Cavanaugh says Get Up's stance is misguided and will further confuse residents affected by erosion.
"I was surprised and a little bit disappointed with the fact that Get Up supported this campaign," she said.
"I think it was an ill-conceived campaign for them to run.
"But it does highlight that there will be local consequences to climate change and that there are hard decisions that will need to be made.
"This is an emotional issue because it's talking about people's houses."
Comment to GetUp! from Antony McCardell:
As an environmental scientist I can say that, sadly, the campaign to save Woolli is misplaced. What can rate-payer funded local councils like Clarence Valley Council do? The most common method used to protect beach communities is to build protective sea walls and groins. This can cause as much harm to up-current beaches and their ecosystems as they produce "security" for the settlements "protected". This is because sea walls dramatically increase beach erosion up-current. This is supported by extensive studies here and worldwide. No, beach erosion and sea level rise are pretty much inevitable unless the world tackles climate change head-on. More power to GetUp if it can achieve THAT... but...
Timthorncraft on the same subject:
Wooli is built on a sand spit. On energetic unprotected coasts like NE NSW, sand spits are temporary features at the best of times and in the face of sea level rise we have two options.
We can go with the geomorphological flow and gradually retreat from low lying vulnerable sand areas like the south end of Wooli Spit or,
We can have the real estate industry pick which bits we want hang on to, fortify them with vast amounts of concrete and rock, costing vast amounts of public money, releasing vast amounts of CO2, and turn places like quaint dear old Wooli into something resembling an industrial wharf complex, and then in 20 or 50 or 100 years we can watch the rising sea eat it all anyway!
I'm a long standing supporter of Getup campaigns but I think that Getup is backing a real loser this time.
Letter from a Coffs Harbour shire councillor:
I have been a proud supporter of Getup! over recent years and have, to date, agreed with and supported most of your campaigns. I too love Wooli greatly and will be greatly saddened to see the coastline of the Clarence Valley change drastically as a result of sea level rise.
In the instance of your "Save Wooli" campaign I completely disagree. This is because:
1. Sea levels are rising - most estimates now commonly exceeding 1m of sea-level rise by 2100, with many recent indications that it could be 2m by 2100. There is no indication whatsoever that sea levels will stop rising at 2100, to the contrary they are likely to continue rising due to our (the human species) ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.
2. There are only two solutions to adapt to the impacts of sea-level rise on residential, commercial and industrial premises:
i. Move to higher ground
ii. Engineer costly solutions such as sea walls, levees and put in place fill to physically protect premises.
3. The cost of engineering solutions to protect all vulnerable coastal properties is most likely well beyond available public funds.
4. It is not an equitable use of public funds to pay for the protection of a very limited number of properties in a highly vulnerable coastal locality. If Clarence Valley Council and the State and Federal Governments are called upon to fund the protection of a very limited number of properties at Wooli this will draw much-needed funds away from Hospitals, Schools, Aged Care Facilities, Libraries and Environmental Protection and Restoration projects.
These are the hard realities and consequences of the fact that Australians are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases globally. We are the greatest per-capita contributors to the very problems that you highlight in your "Save Wooli" campaign. As a nation we need to make some very tough decisions in the public interest. Protecting a limited number of coastal properties to the detriment of many needy social and environmental services is not, in my opinion, a fair and equitable campaign.
I have always associated Getup! with fairness, equity, reason and rationality and a fair-go for our people and environment. In this instance I feel very strongly that you have got it wrong.
Councillor Mark Graham
Coffs Harbour City Council.
Petering Time on the Save Wooli campaign here.