By Jackson Russell
OPPONENTS of the planned Seymour Flood Levee rejoiced after Mitchell Shire councillors unanimously voted against continuing the project at last Monday night’s council meeting.
Councillors voted to cease pursuing future planning, development and delivery of the levee and explore opportunities to reallocate already secured funding to alternative projects in the area.
The levee, expected to cost $20 million, had already attracted state and federal government funding totalling $6 million.
Council officers will now prepare a report outlining the implications the decision will have on the Seymour Structure Plan, which currently references the flood levee project. The structure plan will be amended, and a report tabled at a future meeting.
The project received an overwhelming lack of support from the community, with 84 per cent of respondents to a community survey against the levee.
The Seymour Flood Mitigation Group was one of numerous groups of Seymour residents opposed to the project proceeding.
Members of the group gathered to watch the live streamed meeting in Chittick Park on Monday night and celebrated the result.
The meeting was closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Secretary Vicki Chapman said the group was overwhelmed by the support.
“It’s fantastic. [Council has] listened to the people,” she said.
“We’ve been fighting this for three years and we were just overwhelmed by the community stepping up.
“When they put it in the Seymour Structure Plan, they put it in with a tiny little picture and a lot of people didn’t realise there was even a levee proposed so we blew it up and when we showed people, they were in shock.”
Ms Chapman said the group’s main argument was there was no need for a levee on the Goulburn River.
She said the next step for the group was to help flood overlays be removed from land near the river.
“Take away Sunday Creek and Whiteheads Creek, the Goulburn doesn’t flood the town,” she said.
“If they can get the overlays off, it would open up the town for development.”
North ward councillor and Seymour resident Rhonda Sanderson agreed, saying a levee was not needed to open up development of the town.
“People promoting the levee argued the levee is needed for the economic development of the town. Specifically, they were seeking the removal of flood overlays and the rezoning of flood-prone land for development,” she said.
“However, it’s obvious to anyone actually living here, that development has progressed despite the flood overlays and substantial development has occurred in the levee area since our last flood in 1974.”
South ward councillor Rob Eldridge said any economic benefits were outweighed by disadvantages and there were no social benefits to be seen.
“One of the things we do in terms of our planning is say we need to open up the river and this has the exact opposite effect,” he said.
“I love Seymour and spend a lot of time on the river and we need to leverage access to it, not stop access.”