John Vaisutis with daughter Zoe, 6, survey the flooded Brisbane River at the Moggill Ferry. A developer who wants to build on a nearby floodprone site at Weekes Rd must install a warning siren, a court has ruled. Picture: Tim Marsden
John Vaisutis with daughter Zoe, 6, survey the flooded Brisbane River at the Moggill Ferry. A developer who wants to build on a nearby floodprone site at Weekes Rd must install a warning siren, a court has ruled. Picture: Tim Marsden

Developer ordered to install flood warning siren

A COURT has ordered a developer to install a warning siren so residents can flee his proposed Brisbane housing estate in the event of a major flood.

The order is one of 58 conditions imposed on Dickson Properties Pty Ltd's Weekes Rd, Moggill, development.

But an earlier condition to build a 130-person flood refuge, which Mr Dickson dubbed "Noah's Ark'', has been dropped.

The 138-page judgment, handed down in the Planning & Environment Court last week, brings to an end a mammoth seven-year court battle involving Brisbane City Council and Mr Dickson's company.

Council knocked back the project in 2012, as well as two earlier developments proposed for the old Moggill Country Club.

Council objected to impacts on the environment, particularly koalas living near the riverfront section of the sprawling property, and flood risk.

Residents' lobby group, Rural Environment Planning Association (REPA), which has been fighting the various proposals since 2004, said it could do no more but was thankful the court had made significant "improvements''.

They included the warning siren, a requirement to raise the lowest point of Weekes Rd from 10.8m AHD (Australian Height Datum, or height above mean sea level) to 11.5m AHD and a minimum height requirement for house slabs of 19m.

The nearby Moggill River flood gauge recorded a height of 17.8m in the 2011 floods and Weekes Rd was cut off for four days.

"The court ruled that a siren activated by rising flood waters be installed,'' REPA committee member Anna Williamson said.

"That's important because one of the problems in the 2011 floods was the water came up incredibly quickly, and overnight.

"It was alarms going off in the Coles carpark at Bellbowrie shopping centre at 3am that first alerted residents in (nearby) Birkin Rd to the danger.

"That was one of the reasons why we wanted to have an alarm.''

But Mr Dickson and residents both objected to the flood refuge, which neighbours labelled a "Tower of Babel''. That idea has now been dropped.

Mr Dickson's lawyers were contacted for comment.

Ms Williamson said another key condition was that the body corporate which would cover the proposed 23 houses would have to developer a flood plan and provide all future residents with an emergency action plan.

"Anybody who has moved here since 2011 would possibly be unaware of the danger (the Brisbane River poses in the Moggill-Bellbowrie area),'' she said.

"The river is an incredible force in flood and quite terrifying. It can be an awful thing.

"We had 19m of water over parts of our property but luckily our house is on higher ground.

There were 89 houses in Bellbowrie, Moggill and Anstead flooded and 200 people had to be billeted by the local community.

"Bellbowrie shopping centre was out of action for nine months, the power went off for days and our (then) Councillor, Margaret de Wit, had to fight to get State Government help because nobody knew we had been flooded.''

One of Queensland's leading experts on Brisbane River flooding, Professor Colin Apelt, has previously called for Council to develop specific flood plans for Pullenvale (which covers Moggill and Bellbowrie) and Tennyson wards.



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