Byron Bay's Main beach and Clarkes beach showing the effects of coastal erosion after high tide on Thursday, August 6.
Byron Bay's Main beach and Clarkes beach showing the effects of coastal erosion after high tide on Thursday, August 6.

Beach hazards more expensive than fixing roads

COASTAL hazards and marine erosion have become as costly to councils as fixing roads, and coastal councils are asking for extra funding.

The issue was highlighted by councils across the country, according to the interim findings of a survey by the Australia Coastal Councils Association.

Ballina councillor and ACCA chairman Sharon Cadwallader confirmed funding issues are the main concern for councillors around the country.

"We know that the coastline is critical for economic reason to all coastal councils," she said.

"It's like road funding, when we look at funding our roads, there is a budget for State and Federal governments that help us maintain our roads, because it's not something that councils can do, and the coastline is not different.

 

Byron Bay's Main beach and Clarkes beach showing the effects of coastal erosion after high tide on Thursday, August 6.
Byron Bay's Main beach and Clarkes beach showing the effects of coastal erosion after high tide on Thursday, August 6.

"The works are always so expensive that it's not something that councils can afford alone.

"Councils do what they can, but it's not enough, and that's why a national approach is needed."

Cr Cadwallader said a small rural council in South Australia reported spending 31 per cent of total operating revenue on coastal management and expected this to increase in the future.

64 per cent of respondents indicated their council needed more technical data in order to manage coastal hazards effectively, while 68 per cent needed more policy guidance and 80 per cent said their council needed more funding.

 

Scenes from Byron Bay as extreme weather lashes the North Coast of New South Wales. Photograph: Jason O'Brien
Scenes from Byron Bay as extreme weather lashes the North Coast of New South Wales. Photograph: Jason O'Brien

90 per cent of councils that completed the survey rated coastal hazards as a priority issue, with a similar percentage indicating they had been impacted by coastal hazards in the previous five years.

In response to a question of the total cost to council of managing coastal hazards in the past 5 years:

• 21 per cent said it was less than $250,000

• 18 per cent said it was between $0.5 million and $1 million

• 25 per cent said it was between $1 million and $5 million

• 11 per cent said it was between $5 million and $10 million

• 9 per cent said it was between $10 million and $20million

One council reported spending more than $50 million over this time frame.

The interim findings were discussed by ACCA's Alan Stokes and Susan Faulkner with the

Coastal Hazards Working Group, a team appointed by Federal and State Environment

Ministers to develop a collaborative approach to managing coastal hazards.

The final results of the survey are expected later this year.



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