Pridel Investments appealed the Coffs Harbour City Council’s decision to refuse a development project. Pridel Investments proposed a development project for a 39-lot subdivision and boundary adjustment on coastal land. The Council refused the application for many reasons, including, inter alia: inadequate information to assess flood risks, inappropriate flood considerations under climate change, inappropriate siting due to likely coastal hazards, and the project not being in the public interest. In considering the development, the Court acknowledged that climate change will accelerate coastal processes, making it much more likely that the site will be inundated by the sea, and that the project has risks for the conservation of flora communities. The Court dismissed the appeal, finding that the development project did not meet the Costal Policy’s principles of ecological sustainable development (ESD principles), including the precautionary principle when assessing risks.
Environmental Legal Questions:
- Did the Council lawfully refuse the development project application? The appellant’s argument for appeal did not meet the ESD principles of the Coastal Policy. The Court indicated that ESD, and specifically the precautionary principle, requires more where there is a risk of serious harm or damage to the environment, life, and property. Furthermore, the Court stated that the serious reservations about this development posed by experienced experts were not dealt with satisfactorily in the evidence presented. Such reservations place the onus on the applicant to demonstrate adequate risk assessments and mitigation measures. Therefore, the Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the Council’s decision.