The proposed asphalting of the popular southern-breakwater walkway at the Brunswick Heads river mouth has outraged residents who were caught by surprise yesterday morning with the arrival of heavy machinery at nearby Torakina carpark.
Work is due to start tomorrow on what the state government says is a $230,000 ‘upgrade’ of the pathway, used by hundreds of thousands of people each year.
It involves the placement of 200 tonnes of armour rock on the breakwater and sealing the crest surface with a 2.4-metre-wide asphalt path ‘to improve public access’.
But locals say they were not consulted at all on the works which was proposed, and approved, by the Department of Primary Industries (Crown Lands division).
Brunswick Heads Progress Association and Foreshore Protection Group spokespeople said the town had a long history of opposing the asphalting popular beach and river foreshore recreation areas.
BHPA member Patricia Warren told Echonetdaily that alternative hard surfaces such as compressed hailstones would be ‘more aesthetically pleasing than a black strip to satisfy the accessibility agenda (for a hard, level surface)’.
Ms Warren was told the hailstone surface was considered, but not supported, by the department as it required high maintenance, had a higher life-cycle cost, and would require the use of trucks and other substantial machinery on the breakwater crests, which were not designed to carry such loads.
She said that asphalt in the summer would not make the walkway accessible to those who conventionally walk barefoot to go surfing/board riding.
Heavy machinery which arrived at Torakina car park yesterday for the southern breakwater pathway works caught many locals by surprise.
A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries said the repair and upgrade to the southern breakwater would take around two weeks.
The spokesman told Echonetdaily the upgrade was part of the NSW government’s Coastal Infrastructure Program ‘that supports local economies through improving maritime facilities and infrastructure’.
‘The program also assists commercial fishing and leisure boating along the coastline through repairs to maritime assets on Crown land such as breakwaters, training walls, moorings and berthing facilities, as well as navigational dredging,’ he said.
‘The Brunswick River southern breakwater helps train the river entrance providing protection for maritime traffic and a popular recreation area for locals and tourists.
‘The work involves the placement of 200 tonnes of armour rock to fill voids along the face and head of the structure to improve the integrity of the breakwater.
‘The job will take around two weeks and will be completed by sealing the crest surface with a 2.4 metres wide asphalt path to improve public access.
‘A comprehensive environmental assessment was completed for the project and the department consulted Roads and Maritime Service, Office of Environment and Heritage, Byron Shire Council and the Brunswick Harbour Consultative Committee which represents river users,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the spokesman said the controversial dredging of the Brunswick Heads boat harbour would also begin soon
He said the $410,000 works are funded under the NSW government’s Dredging of Priority Waterways on the North Coast program ‘which supports commercial fishing fleets and leisure boating through navigational dredging’.
‘The dredging will provide significant benefits to commercial harbour users, recreational boaters and response agencies such as police and marine rescue that all rely on secure passage through local waters,’ he said.
‘In addition to environmental assessments, the Department of Primary Industries Lands consulted Byron Shire Council and key stakeholders such as the Brunswick Harbour Consultative Committee and NSW Roads and Maritime Service in planning the dredging works.
‘Around 10,000 cubic metres of clean marine sand will be dredged from the Brunswick River channel and pumped north to New Brighton Beach where it will be used for beach re-nourishment.
‘Some 1,500 cubic metres of other material will be dredged from the boat harbour, pumped into geo-textile bags and then taken to landfill,’ he said..
‘The department has responded to the issues raised by council and believes the issues have been addressed.’