During today’s BayFM Meet the Candidates interview with Duncan Dey I was taken aback by some of the factual laxity that was put out there. This letter is to correct the record.
The community recently voted on seven options Council presented for the repair and remodelling of what used to be called the Jonson Street Protection Works – now the Main Beach Shoreline Project. Council was surveying the community to see which three would survive the first cull and go back for further investigation and modelling.
Before I go any further, let me say that none of these ‘options’ mean lesser protection for town infrastructure. Wherever a rock wall is placed its protection of what lies behind it remains the same. But what happens in front of, and more particularly at the ends of, any hard seawall is a different matter. There its function is to turn back the sea with such force that the sand on the beach is scoured away and beach erosion is thereby magnified.
So, with all options protecting the township, the real choice for people was, and remains, how much beach do they want back, or are they happy to live without it?
And another point, none of the choices mean we have to go without a car park! If people want a car park on the beach that badly, they can have it – just not surrounded by rocks if they also want a beach. A car park can be built on or over the beach – like on a pier or jetty – and still allow us to align the beach to its former arc – meaning sand build-up rather than sand removal. Of course dune regeneration must go hand-in-hand with any protection works.
So – to the facts – after the community survey – the community voted strongly to realign the beach – i.e. to have a protective wall built 30 metres back – 56 per cent.
Second public choice was to build the wall 10 metres back – 52 per cent.
Third choice, strongly supported by the SLSC who believe the rocks and groynes give them a better wave – (wrong!) – 48 per cent.
The fourth choice – 37 per cent (artificial headland and sand piped under it).
The fifth most popular choice was to just remove the groynes – 29 per cent.
Council staff recommended public choice 2, public choice 3 and public choice 5.
In other words, staff recommended the status quo to the detriment of realigning the beach.
I put up an amendment to go with public opinion – 1) move back 30 metres, 2) move back 10 metres or 3) rejig what we’ve got now – because I firmly believe that’s what the public want most – their beach back!
Strangely enough this was rejected by two ‘Greens’ who wanted the staff recommendation to hold.
After much argument, councillors settled on 1) move back up to 30 metres, 2) keep the car park and groynes and 3) removal of the groynes only. Given staff, and Greens, preferences seem to hold more weight than public opinion, I can only imagine how seriously they will investigate realigning the beach and regenerating the dunes in front of a protective wall.
It’s a sad state of affairs to my mind. We could, with judicious and creative planning, like Kingscliff, have our cake and eat it too – rebuild our beach and protect our town, but for some reason there is a big push to keep that car park actually ON the beach and surround it with a beach killing seawall. No beach, no beach, no beach.