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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

(Pre) fab solutions for beach erosion

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Jan Hackett, Sunrise Beach

Dear [Byron Shire] Cr Sol Ibrahim,

I trust you watched Prime News on Tuesday night.

Taree Council are about to approve the building of a sea wall at Old Bar that is not made of rocks! I don’t know what costs are involved, but if it can save the beach, even for the next 50 years, surely it is worth paying.

A Port Macquarie man has used the system successfully in South Africa. It is a prefab honeycomb grid like structure, that, set at a slope to the beach, takes the force of the ocean, retains the incoming sand (and thereby the beach) and protects property. Looks like the perfect solution for Belongil Beach! The DA for erecting such a sea wall has been made by the Meridien resort.

Yes, I do become emotional, but my only ‘motive’ is to see the beach saved for the use of the community for many years to come. Other ‘protection’ works, like those outlined for Old Bar, will achieve both goals, while rock walls will not. They will only secure the properties, but lose the beach. We must be clever about this. There are many possible solutions, but rocks are not one of them. It’s a lose/lose situation instead of a win/win result.

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  1. Hand in hand with the Taree alternative wall is also this statement from the synopsis of the council report: “In addition to these, the following planned retreat options were considered: rezoning, Local
    Environmental Plan provisions and development controls for future development; purchase/ partial
    acquisition of existing properties; and relocation of holiday park structures and public infrastructure.

    Preferred options, as adopted by Council, will be included in a draft Coastline Management Plan. The
    Coastline Management Plan will also include an Emergency Action Plan.”

  2. Council has also received some preliminary advice regarding the use of prefabricated concrete revetment structures. Compared to locally available rocks or sandbags, they are considerably more expensive to install(and even more costly to remove). The critical factor is the slope of the wall and the voids to capture sand, and of course the aesthetics. Not everyone will prefer 1.4 kilometers of concrete to naturally occurring rocks. Furthermore, it is important to remember that not all coastline systems are the same. Belongil is subject to cyclonic conditions that may not occur further south. The matters before council are not about protecting private property. How many times does this fact need to be stated? There are already over 1.2 kilometers of rock walls, desperately and hurriedly constructed during storm seasons by private landowners, in the absence of any Council management plan. Council has been formally invited by these private residents to undertake a jointly funded whole beach solution to return sand to the beach. The Council works currently under consideration are for 120 meters only! These works, no matter what they’re made of, will have no discernible effect on the beach as a whole. Taree has completed their Coastal Zone Management Plan. Ours has been over 10 years in the making. It is not likely to be submitted for approval until mid 2014.In the meanwhile, we need to consider all options to protect our assets now. In two or more years when we finally have a plan, we can sit down with all of the Belongil community to save the beach, public and private property, a win-win for all.


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