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Byron coastal options include sand pumping, giant rock wall

One of the options for sand replenishment from Tallow to Clarkes Beach (right). A near-shore sand pumping system in operation at Noosa Heads (above and below)
One of the options for sand replenishment from Tallow to Clarkes Beach (right). A near-shore sand pumping system in operation at Noosa Heads (above and below) Water Research Laboratory University Of NSW

BYRON Shire Council is caught between a rock wall and a hard place in determining how to best proceed with its Coastal Zone Management Plan.

A controversial plan to pump sand from Cosy Corner at Tallow Beach across to Clarkes Beach has been included as part of a report from consultants Water Research Laboratory (University of NSW).

It is just one of the options on the table as council grapples with how to protect its iconic beaches and built up areas from future storms and sea level rises.

Mayor Simon Richardson said "the average person would be horrified by the thought" and that it would be "unpalatable to the community".

"The idea of taking thousands of metres of sand from that iconic surf beach, over the National Park to Clarkes goes counter to what I think is the prevailing environmental feeling in our community," he said.

"But the devil will be in the detail. We need to look at the impact on Tallows, on the surf break, the size of pipes, where they will go and if they will be visible, the noise. At this stage we don't know."

The council recently approved an interim rock wall to be built at Belongil while it goes through the process of preparing its Coastal Hazard Management Study and Coastal Zone Management Plan.

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The options before the council are to maintain their current Planned Retreat policy which has been in place since 1988. Essentially it requires owners to remove houses built after 1988 when the sea is lapping on their doorstep.

Another option is to fix the exiting rock walls and fill in the gaps to protect existing houses. If that option is pursued, additional engineering work will be needed to capture or replenish sand that would otherwise be washed away.

Cr Richardson said the options include a series of groynes - rock walls that would run perpendicular to the beach to capture the sand as it moves north from the lighthouse - or one big groyne that could be positioned at the mouth of Belongil Creek that would be similar in size to the rock wall at Brunswick Heads.

Initially the Office of Environment and Heritage would not support the construction of a rock wall at Belongil unless there was an approved sand nourishment program in place to offset erosion.

However, residents approached Environment Minister Rob Stokes who over-ruled that decision so construction can go ahead without the need for a sand transfer scheme to be in place.

But it is estimated that a system to pump sand from Tallow Beach would cost around $2 million to build with an annual running cost of $300,000 - $500,000.

"So the question is who is going to pay for it? Particularly the ongoing running costs," Cr Richardson said.

The Office of Environment and Heritage had offered to do an independent cost-benefit analysis of all the options but this was voted down at the last council meeting.

Topics:  byron shire council coastal zone management plan



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