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Byron Shire
April 14, 2021

Belongil rock wall plan ill conceived

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I’m sorry Lester Brien, but you really have to do your research. Here are some responses to your recent letter ‘Sol not sole supporter of rocks’.

1) If you look into rock walls constructed in Australia and internationally to protect houses and public and private land you will start to see a trend. That trend is that there are severe issues associated to all of them. Simple coastal dynamics prove that rock walls do not ‘protect or enhance’ beaches, they do the exact opposite. If this wall is built the beach will be gone and the surf will be severely affected. As a surfer Lester, I would have imagined that this would be of great concern to you. Could you please explain what you mean by your last sentence: ‘far from denying public access, the work will protect and enhance it’?

2) Sea levels are rising, it is scientific fact. I am quite baffled by this as if sea levels weren’t rising, why build a wall?

3) Again, it is proven scientific fact that hard structures accelerate erosion. There are literally thousands of cases of walls causing massive, irreversible damage to the beach in front of them as well as to the north of them. In this case it would be Belongil Estuary and Tyagarah. ‘Looking up the beach a bit’ is not enough to determine whether a rock wall is built or not. Decades of scientific research, environmental planning and a thorough understanding of coastal processes and their relationship with rock walls is. In terms of the effectiveness of rock walls have had in controlling beach erosion between Byron and Kirra, I beg to differ. The effects of these walls has had a disastrous effect on increasing erosion and destroying beaches all along the coast, most notably at Kirra and Snapper Rocks.

If you need any clarification of the above points I am happy to provide you with as much information from credible sources as possible.

Much of the information comes from peer reviewed scientific journal articles and experts in the field of coastal dynamics and processes. If you were to type ‘rock walls’ into Google you will be able to access much of the information there by yourself.

The myriad of research and scientific articles related to rock walls as well as the negative consequences of walls built around the country and throughout the world have led to one irrefutable conclusion, the rock wall being proposed for Belongil will destroy Belongil beach, have serious impacts on coastal processes and serious consequences from increased erosion north of the wall.

It will destroy the surf at Belongil and potentially have severe effects on marine life. Being within a marine park is further incentive to hold off on construction of the wall until a proper coastal management plan is completed.

Why council would rush ahead with this ill-conceived plan is beyond me, as is why anyone with any knowledge of rock walls would support it unless they had a vested interest.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OHS) coastal panel listed a myriad of reasons as to why they didn’t support the wall including:

* the wall is not interim,
* there will be long-term impacts on the beach,
* the wall could unintentionally create a headland situation through the creation of unintended end effects on existing walls and property,
* that the beach may be compromised,
* that the rocks may become a hazard and threat to public safety,
* that removable public beach access stairs have not been planned into the design,
* that the wall will cause mini rip embayments and exacerbate existing rips causing increased risk to swimmers and surfers,
* that the sand levels outlined in the wall proposal are ‘unrealistic’ and thus cause public safety issues as the rocks would be more frequently exposed,
* that long-term maintenence issues and related costs have not been addressed.

Does this sound like a well conceived plan that will protect the beach, increase public amenity and look after the environment? I think not…

Karl Goodsell, Byron Bay


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