Wamberal Beach Save Our Sand (SOS) will host a “Line In The Sand,” protest at Wamberal Beach on the September 11 at 11am.
This protest is about drawing a “line in the sand,” and telling council “enough is enough”, group member Hugh Naven said.
“Since the start, our voices have been silenced and our opinions ignored,” Mr Naven said.
“This day is all about the Wamberal community getting a say in the future of their beach.”
Mr Naven said Central Coast Council was now setting minimum guidelines for homeowners to follow when introducing their own individual seawalls through Development Applications (DAs).
“The introduction of a seawall through DA submissions would likely lead to a disjointed, understudied and misrepresentative outcome that will have adverse impacts on the beach,” he said.
“But more importantly, it means the community is unable to have a say about the solution.”
He said it was sad to see the continued disregard for public sentiments.
“Rather than working with community to find other alternative solutions they persist with pursuing the potentially beach destroying option of a Seawall,” he said.
“After 2 years of campaigning, achieving over 2,300 signatures on a petition and acquiring 4,000 group members opposed to the seawall, council continue to forge ahead and make things easier for homeowners.
“In past media releases we referred to the importance of a well-researched and representative solution to ensure Wamberal Beach, and everything it has to offer, is not destroyed.
“Sadly, Dr Phil Watson, Central Coast Council and the State Government Member, Adam Crouch, continue to endorse and promote models for implementing works that are designed to minimise and curtail the opportunity for meaningful opposition and comment,” he said.
The NSW Government established the Wamberal Seawall Advisory Taskforce on July 31, 2020, to provide Central Coast Council with support to implement a sustainable long-term solution to the coastal erosion issues at Wamberal Beach.
Dr Phil Watson was appointed Chair of the Taskforce which included Council’s then CEO Gary Murphy, Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch, a council appointed project manager, and representatives from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
The minutes from the latest meeting, held on June 15, 2022, show that Crown Lands investigation into the ownership of some waterfront land parcels is progressing slowly.
“Crown Lands are awaiting legal advice on related matters which will hopefully be available for the next Taskforce meeting,” the minutes say.
The meeting was told that draft Minimum Engineering Design Requirements (MEDR) for protection works along Wamberal had been prepared and would be exhibited in July for public comment.
“The Chair also advised that he was keen to see the MEDR progressed as a matter of urgency to constructively guide landowner efforts to prepare conforming DAs for protection works along Wamberal Beach and to accord with the overarching strategy in the certified CZMP,” the minutes state.
The Avoca Beach Community Association (ABCA) submitted its thoughts on the draft engineering requirements of the Wamberal seawall when the MEDR went to public exhibition in July.
“This submission does not attempt to address the threshold question as to whether or not a seawall is the best strategy to address coastal erosion at Wamberal,” ABCA said.
“Our focus starts with the premise that the policy and design requirements for a Wamberal seawall will in many ways serve as precedent for coastal erosion management into the future for Wamberal and for other Central Coast beaches.”
It raised questions about the need for visual and access criteria; allocation of responsibility at the end of service life of a seawall and design addressing all dimensions of future climate parameters, not only sea level rise.
It said the elements needing to be specified as part of the Engineering Design Requirements included:
- Maintenance of the beach in its natural state – the state that existed prior to temporary works or a permanent seawall structure.
- A definitive sand nourishment program must be in place before a DA can be approved.
- Specification that property owners bringing forward a DA will be required to meet the future ongoing costs of a sand nourishment program delivered by Council.
- Defining the trigger conditions for commencing sand nourishment and timeframe for completion.
- A proposal for a sand nourishment program must be accompanied by a social and environmental impacts assessment.
“Should Council consider that it is not feasible to specify fully each of these elements in the Engineering Design Requirements, then it should be made clear in the Requirements that those matters will be addressed in the new Coastal Management Program to be finalized by end 2023,” the group said.
It said that while Wamberal was a known hotspot for coastal erosion, other sandy beaches on the Central Coast also are prone to erosion. And, as a result of climate change, erosion risk will magnify the number of locations impacted and the magnitude of impacts.
It said if seawalls were going to be part of the future, It was important to get right at the outset some of the fundamental principles that should apply into the future.
“The decisions made now, or the failure to do so, on all key aspects of policy and design requirements for a major seawall construction will have major ramifications for beach users and the general community for generations to come, Avoca Beach Community Association said.
Waterfront homeowners have formed Wamberal Beach Protection Association which is hoping to proceed with DAs for the wall.
It is believed the group has the support of 59 homeowners out of a possible 69 blocks with homes on them.
There are another five government owned blocks.
The association says the goal is to have the DA design complete and submitted to Council by the end of the year.
But Council has still to formally adopt the guidelines.
More information on that should come in the minutes of the August meeting of the Wamberal Seawall Advisory Taskforce and possibly the September meeting of Council.
When the Taskforce was originally formed, the priority was to assist Council to project manage the design, approval, and implementation of a preferred protection strategy.
“Following recent circumstances which had resulted in an unprecedented and significant deterioration in Council’s financial position, it was no longer possible for Council to continue with the original implementation model as proposed to deliver the protection and sand nourishment strategy for Wamberal,” updated terms of reference state.
“The current revised Terms of Reference represent the next phase of progressing the solution to coastal erosion issues along Wamberal.
“This will occur via Council establishing a development application framework within which to consider and approve proposed protection works.
“Accordingly, the role of the Taskforce has been revised to continue to provide advice (where relevant) to Council to enable a solution to continue to be progressed and implemented.”
The protection works would be paid by the homeowners and would be located on their land.
A report has to go a council meeting with tan explanation of the public responses to the wall design guidelines and council’s responses to those reponses.
The plan will then be adopted – or not – by the administrator and eventually become part of a Coastal Zone Management Plan, which is also yet to be adopted.