Sea wall option included

A SEA wall is among the options to be included in a draft Coastal Zone Management Plan for Old Bar Beach, following this week's meeting of Greater Taree City Council.

Councillors have voted that a rock revetment coastal protection option be included as one of the options in the draft plan, following an investigation and report from coastal engineering company Royal Haskoning DHV.

The latter was secured with coastal management grant funding from the office of Environment and Heritage.

Despite division in the Old Bar community about the rock revetment wall and what implications it will have for Old Bar's beach and tourist economy, council's decision on Wednesday does not mean it is committed to the sea wall option.

Cr David Keegan, chair of the Manning Estuary Coastline and Catchment Advisory Committee, emphasised on several occasions that the report was merely to have the sea wall included with other options "on the table", including:

o Do nothing

o Planned retreat

o Beach nourishment

o Revetment and beach nourishment

o Groyne field and beach nourishment

o Offshore reef and beach nourishment

o Lewis Street DA seawall model

o Old Bar Sand Replenishment Group's ASR Limited offshore reef

o AUS Seawall's crib wall.

"Nowhere in this report is any suggestion that council is in favour of a revetment wall," he said.

Mrs Rosemary Probst from Old Bar addressed the council before it debated the report, reminding councillors that although she realised the study was merely to get it on the list of options, they still had a "big decision to make".

She expressed concerns about possible failures of sea walls, the cost of construction, the loss of the beach and the subsequent effects this would have on tourism, the local economy and home values, and spoke in favour of a reef option which would rebuild the beach.

Council's executive leader corporate support Laura Black said the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan would allow full assessment and further consultation of all of the options.

In her report Ms Black said council and the NSW State Office of Environment and Heritage

entered a partnership in Sep tember to investigate a permanent coastal protection structure for Old Bar, which would protect property, infrastructure and assets.

This was achieved by engaging Royal Haskoning DHV to conduct the study, with 89 per cent grant funding.

"The Minister for Environment and Heritage requested the project maintain a strict timeframe of 12 weeks for completion," she said in her report.

"The final report is now complete and recommends a rock revetment coastal protection structure to be constructed in four stages over a period of 25 years, pending continued erosion rates.

"Council's endorsement to progress activities that would see this option included in the Coastal Zone Management Framework is now sought."

Ms Black said council's draft Coastal Zone Management Plan remains on hold pending the Stage 2 Coastal Reforms, currently being considered by the State Government.

"This investigative project into a permanent coastal protection structure will provide valuable input into that review."

Council also agreed on recommendations to:

o Seek a funding variation from the Office of Environment and Heritage to "undertake the work required to include the rock revetment coastal protection structure option in the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan and that this work be viewed as an extension to the current project with Royal Haskoning DHV."

o To make the design and report from Royal Haskoning DHV publically available

o Make the public aware that further consultations will be undertaken in relation to all the options in the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan

o Send a copy of the report, council's resolution and the consulting company's design and report to the minister for Environment and Heritage.

o That the mayor write to the Minister for Environment and Heritage (Robyn Parker MP) requesting a meeting with himself and senior council staff "to discuss the matter of coastal protection relating to Old Bar as a matter of urgency".

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