Australia: Coastal Management Forum at Old Bar Beach

Greater Taree City Councillors and the community recently had the opportunity to hear from coastal engineering experts on the prediction for coastal hazard risk for Old Bar, the impact of that risk on the community and property owners, and the means by which it can be mitigated.

Mr Gary Blumberg and Mr Pat Lawless of Royal HaskoningDHV and Mr James Carley from the University of NSW’s Water Research Laboratory advised on the potential loss of 50 – 200 homes in Old Bar if nothing is done to address the rapidly eroding and receding coastline.

This escalation of erosion has caused increased recession of the coastline and significant loss of property has already been felt in Lewis Street, with the loss of some 25 metres in the last 10 years.

Council’s Executive Leader Corporate Support, Laura Black, said: “There is no end to this rate of loss in sight and on that basis it is evident that there will be more and more homes lost if nothing is done.”

Ms Black advised that the Greater Taree local government area (LGA) is not alone in this situation, as Old Bar is one of 11 hot spots on the NSW coast, but the LGA currently leads the way in terms of the amount of private and public property at imminent risk.

“It is the startling reality of changed weather conditions and a distressing matter for many property owners in Old Bar to have to contend with,” said Ms Black. “But as Council is required to make a recommendation regarding a preferred management option to the State after its May Ordinary Meeting, property owners and the community will soon be able to plan with more certainty.”

The recommendation to be put to Council in May is intended to be coastal management, by construction of a rock revetment structure in four stages over 25 years, pending monitoring of continued erosion. The alternative solution to this is planned retreat, which will require the imposition of restricted development for any property in the path of continued recession.

“Restricted development will have the effect of minimising the opportunity to add additional space to existing homes,” said Ms Black. “It also ensures that all new construction is made of material that can be removed more easily than the traditional concrete slab with bricks and mortar construction style.”

Press Release, April 30, 2014

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