Rising seas threaten Lennox

By Mary Mann mary.mann@northernstar.com.au MILLION dollar beach-front homes at Lennox Head are likely to go under water if nature is allowed to take its course.

A Ballina Shire Council study of its coastlines suggests long-term beach erosion or a severe storm could see homes and facilities on Pacific Parade ruined.

Susan Flinn lives on Pacific Parade and is worried about what might happen to the houses in her street.

"When I wake up, I often expect the ocean to be lapping at the front door," she said.

"Especially after a storm. The noise of a storm is frightening enough, it sounds like it is going to come right up and over the house.

"The sea level is rising, you can see it in the tides." The council is preparing a Coastline Management Study and Plan, looking at what can be done to minimise the impact of such scenarios.

It is tossing up whether it should allow nature to take its course and lose public and private land, or implement costly management options such as creating seawall embankments to prevent further erosion of the shorelines.

Paul Busmanis, Ballina Shire Council's engineering works manager, said the biggest and most immediate impact to Lennox Head would be a severe storm.

"From outside the pub, up Pacific Parade, the beach could easily erode and encroach on the boundaries of the properties," he said.

"We are working on creating a long-term strategic plan, looking at likely future hazards and what we can do about them."

Ms Flinn, who is renting her beach-front home, said she would not buy property on the coast.

"No way, by the time I'd leave it to my children or grandchildren, it wouldn't exist," she said.

"The days of living right on the coast are long gone, you need to be further back and higher up these days.

"I thank my lucky stars, I'll probably be one of the last generations to get to live along here." But up the road, Martin Strom is not concerned.

"I don't believe in it," he said. "And if the sea level does rise, well, then this place will be absolute beach front."

Malcolm Milner, co-ordinator of Lennox Head Landcare, said the community needed to face up to the probability of rising sea levels and erosion encroaching on the coast.

Mr Milner is a part of the council's community consultation group which helped with the coastline management study.

Lennox Head Landcare, along with the Residents' Association's dune care group, work to look after and restore the dunes at Lennox Head.

Mr Milner said he would like to see a rock wall built into the shoreline along Pacific Parade.

He said there was a similar wall near Lake Ainsworth at the moment, which was under the sand dunes.

"The wall could be covered in vegetation and would serve as a buffer, so in the event of cyclone conditions, Pacific Parade would be protected," he said.

"But in the long term, if you're talking about the sea level rising metres, Lennox Head has had it, and so has Ballina."

A coastline management study is expected to be put on public exhibition early next year, with the coastline management plan expected to be complete by mid-2008.

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