Ballina Councillor Jeff Johnson (right), Katie Pratt and GeoLINK environmental engineer Charlie Hewitt at Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head, one of the environmental concerns along the Northern NSW coastline.
Ballina Councillor Jeff Johnson (right), Katie Pratt and GeoLINK environmental engineer Charlie Hewitt at Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head, one of the environmental concerns along the Northern NSW coastline. Jay Cronan

Rising seas put Lennox ‘on emergency radar’

COASTAL erosion problems at Lennox Head will be as bad as those at Belongil in less than 20 years, an environmental engineer has warned.

GeoLINK’s Charlie Hewitt yesterday hosted a field trip to coastal hazard zones between Ballina and Lennox Head as part of the NSW Coastal Conference.

He said Lennox Head was ‘on the emergency radar’.

“Planning and processes can’t keep up with what science is discovering about climate change,” he said.

“In 20 years, or less, we will be having the same problems in Lennox that Belongil is having now.

“Of course, Belongil is more vulnerable because it is a sand spit, but the same questions and the same challenges will apply in Lennox Head.

“The only difference is the timeframe.

“We will have to tackle these issues in the Ballina Shire, and there are no simple solutions.”

Mr Hewitt said the area which would be ‘immediately threatened’ by sea-level rises would be Pacific Parade in Lennox Head, between Byron Street and Foster Street.

“There is a buried sea wall north of the pub,” he said.

“We’re not sure of the design of it, or its exact location. It will reduce the extent of coastal erosion, but we’re not sure by how much. Because of this uncertainty, hazard lines were drawn assuming the sea wall would have no effect.

“We want people to be concerned, but not alarmed. These are people’s homes we’re talking about. They have invested financially and emotionally into these places.”

Ballina Shire Councillor Jeff Johnson said he was concerned that out-of-date sea-level rise figures had been used in the council’s 2003 coastline hazard study.

The figures predict a 0.2m sea level rise by 2050 and a 0.5m rise by 2100.

But new figures released by the State Government recently predict a 0.4m rise by 2050 and 0.9m by 2100.

“This conference leaves no doubt of the challenges we face due to rising sea levels,” Cr Johnson said.

“Coastal hazard and floodplain studies need to be updated to incorporate the new figures.

“The extent of the challenge is massive.”

ARE COUNCILS TAKING CLIMATE CHANGE SERIOUSLY?

Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948



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