Deputy Mayor of Great Lakes Council talks about Coastal Zone.
Council is required to develop Coastal Zone Management Plans for all land within the “Coastal Zone”.
The purpose of the plans is to develop actions to protect “assets” from storm and tidal events.
The plans are much like risk assessment plans that are required under Work Health and safety laws.
That is, what is the likelihood of a particular event happening, frequency and extent of damage.
Although the coastal zone is generally defined as land within 1km of the tidal influence, it is better described as the interface between the land and water.
These zones are important because a majority of the world’s population inhabit such zones. Coastal zones are continually changing because of the dynamic interaction between the oceans and the land.
In Great Lakes we have a rather lengthy coastline for which we need to develop management plans.
We have 3 plans, a generic one generally for our less inhabited beach fronts, such as Bennett’s Beach where there is a strong likelihood that the beach will be subject to erosion and accretion from time to time, but the only asset at risk in an extreme event is the surf club.
As a hypothetical example in such a case a plan may have the actions that in when an extreme event is expected close off the area from people and if the club gets damaged rebuild it as the risk is slight and more cost effective than building a brick wall around it to protect it now.
However the plan would also have different actions if at some stage in the future the waves were continually lapping at the surf club doors.
More specific plans are required for Elizabeth Beach at Pacific Palms and of course our very own Jimmy’s Beach.
As Jimmy’s Beach was recognised as a known “hotspot”, Council was required to adopt a version of the Jimmy’s Beach CZMP and submit this to the Minister for the Environment for certification by 30 June 2015 to secure future funding.
This deadline was achieved and the CZMP is currently with the Minister awaiting certification and formal gazettal.
It was acknowledged within that plan that a range of issues could not be satisfactorily addressed within the CZMP document submitted to the Minister.
Such issues related to funding requirements for hot spots as well as the dredging and renourishment works which would affect the implementation of the plan over time.
Council therefore resolved to prepare a revised CZMP which would go through a subsequent exhibition process and would be submitted for certification by 30 June 2016.
This approach was supported by the Office of Environment and Heritage. Council officers, in conjunction with representatives from the Office of Environment and Heritage, will continue to work through this program with the aim of having a final revised Jimmy’s Beach CZMP ready for certification by June 2016.
The plans are informed by coastal assessment process undertaken by scientific modelling.
There are conflicting views to the accuracy of such information and the reliability benchmark predictions, however they are simply a risk assessment methodology and are not the main focus.
The real focus is on what actions are needed now and what scenario in the future triggers a different set of actions.
For instance the courts have already determined that new buildings at jimmy’s Beach require stronger foundations.
It can now be argued that if the dredging renourishment works are in place for the next 50 years then such requirement will not be needed.
At our strategic meeting last week, we had several speakers who made valid and strong representations.
Their arguments centred around the line in the sand for future trigger points.
Council is taking the representations on board and will be consulting with the speakers to finalise the plans.
The speakers understood the need for such plans and were congratulating council on the work undertaken so far but were arguing, not against the plans but their arguments were akin to “they should be blue rather than orange”.
However, everyone was taken aback by one speaker who has a holiday house at Winda Woppa who asserted that Council was an environmental vandal for protecting the beach, dredging the channel, and not allowing nature to do what it needs to do.
The Mayor commented to the speaker that she was astounded as Council was in fulfilling its legal and moral obligation, listening to the people and trying to do the right thing in saving life and property and the environment. Everyone else, including the audience, sat silently amazed.