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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Important to look at all issues

Latest News

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Matthew Lambourne, Mullumbimby

Oliver Dunne’s insistence that the current erosion at Clarkes Beach has nothing to do with rising sea levels is both right and wrong. In the short-term, it is a result of a lack of sand supply around Cape Byron – variations in this supply cause Clarkes and Main beaches to build up and erode on a timescale of months.

Similarly, major storms such as those in the late ’60s and early ’70s caused erosion that may be followed by recovery of the beach on a timescale of years.

Underlying these variations are the long-term sand supply deficit and rising sea levels, working on a timescale of centuries and causing a slow but steady loss of beach sand, a loss which is hard to see in the short term as it is much less than the short-term variations.

The beaches may have stabilised since the storms of the ’60s/’70s, but they haven’t recovered to former pre-storm condition, just as the northern end of the Belongil spit has never recovered from the storms of the late nineteenth century.

One way to address this long-term trend, and help manage the short-term variations, would be to get sand from the sand lobe off Cape Byron; but this was costed at $38 million in 2006 – I suspect it would cost twice that to do it now.

Oliver suggests that there are other cheaper options, but doesn’t detail these, other than perhaps pumping sand from Cosy Corner. Dailan Pugh says we need a plan, but doesn’t suggest what that plan might be.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that addressing the short-term variations in sand supply but ignoring the long-term erosion trend and rising sea levels will not produce an effective solution. Of course, we could take the advice of another letter writer and put our trust in Trumpian fairy tales and conspiracy theories.

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