The industrial area in South Murwillumbah was inundated with water after Cyclone Debbie dropped a deluge in the Tweed River catchment in 2017.
The industrial area in South Murwillumbah was inundated with water after Cyclone Debbie dropped a deluge in the Tweed River catchment in 2017.

Tweed offers land swap for flood-prone businesses

MURWILLUMBAH business owners have been asked to pack up shop and move to a new industrial area away from the floodplain.

Tweed Shire Council has sent letters to 133 landowners asking for expressions of interest for its Land Swap program.

South Murwillumbah industrial businesses were inundated with metres of water when Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie caused major flooding in the Tweed River catchment in March 2017.

Council chief executive Troy Green said many businesses were "sent to the wall" or would not survive another deluge.

Mr Green said a major concern for the council was that it could not build a levy wall to protect the businesses "because they are on the wrong side of the river".

"The best thing we can do is get businesses out of the flood plain," he said.

To do this, the council has bought land 4km from the town centre at an area known as Industry Central and is offering landowners a swap.

Under the plan, flood-prone businesses with sheds, warehouses and buildings will be offered 20 per cent more land to make up for losing their structures.

They will also be offered 10 years to transition to the new area, with infrastructure charges waived for construction of new buildings.

Tweed Shire Council General Manager Troy Green wants to relocate businesses from South Murwillumbah to Industry Central.
Tweed Shire Council General Manager Troy Green wants to relocate businesses from South Murwillumbah to Industry Central.

But for the 133 landowners, the council has only between 15-20 places at the new industrial estate.

Mr Green said a selection panel would choose landowners whose current sites acted as dam walls during a flood.

Council land development project manager Ray Musgrave said the program would mitigate against future floods caused by climate change.

The Land Swap program would see 15-20 businesses move from the pink area into Industry Central.
The Land Swap program would see 15-20 businesses move from the pink area into Industry Central.

"The second objective is to stimulate the economy … (it is) estimated the money multiplier from the $6.6 million investment will be about $20 million.''

But business owners are hesitant about moving, claiming the extra costs of building new workshops and the distance from the town centre were main hurdles.

Councillor Pryce Allsop, whose own homewares business is in the flood zone, said the problem was getting businesses to rebuild their infrastructure.

Councillor Pryce Allsop’s Murwillumbah business had metres of water going through it during the 2017 floods. Picture Mike Batterham
Councillor Pryce Allsop’s Murwillumbah business had metres of water going through it during the 2017 floods. Picture Mike Batterham

"I would rather be where I am if it didn't flood," he said.

"We are procrastinating and have to decide whether it is financially beneficial for us to leave."

JH Williams building supplies company managing director Bruce Williams said he was backing the council's plan.

"I think it is a great initiative by the council," he said.

"As for the costs with relocating, we are looking at the longer term benefits to recoup those costs."

The council will hold an information session at its Murwillumbah office at 5pm on December 11.



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