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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Time to retreat?

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Neil Matterson, Byron Bay

So when is enough, enough? I am referring to the efforts and cost of mitigation of coastal erosion. Especially when it impacts on the built environment.

A number of houses on the NSW coast over the last week or so have been impacted by surging tides. Certainly a horrific experience for anyone. Also the erosion at Main Beach, Byron Bay last week once again has seen Council busy with machinery. They are engaged in what seems to be a never ending cycle of rearranging grains of sand to reconstruct pathways and the beach in the fleeting image of its former glory; only for it only to be washed away again at the next surging tide. The machinery returns. The tide returns. Etc.

I’m assuming there has to be, both metaphorically and literally, a time to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough to the costs. Often, the number of people impacted is miniscule to the whole population but the costs of restoration and/or legal action are not miniscule when it is local councils having to foot the bill. All this results in less money for the benefit of the rest of the community.

Surely it is time for a wider and more comprehensive discussion on planned retreat so that money can be used for the greater good, rather than on those who have ignored decades of warnings only to build on at-risk land and then cry loudly it is someone else’s fault. Enough!

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  1. Well said.
    According to the last CSIRO report I read on rising sea levels, most of Byron Bay for example will be under water by the turn of the century.
    Where’s the long-term planning we need for our future generations?


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