With the disappearance of Whitehill Road from Drummonds, a number of people online have stated why hasn’t Council done anything about this? There are also people who state that the problems are caused by the construction of rock walls, such as the port, the marina and various groynes and simply chucking more rocks in to save one road will only cause problems elsewhere.
The problem of coastal erosion is created largely in part to a lack of sand moving north as well as sea level rise and constructing infrastructure in questionable areas of the coast.Council needs to fully understand our Coastal processes, as simply throwing rocks into one area to save a road, will most likely cause a road somewhere else to be undermined and the problem simply gets moved up and down the coast. To that end the City commissioned a study late last year to understand our coastline in full, so that bad decisions about building on our coastline are no longer made. It is only when armed with the science can we make these decisions properly.
Then the matter of cost needs to be discussed. It is clear that we need to protect the northern beaches starting from the Marina and traveling up to Drummonds. The cost of saving just the Beresford foreshore is approximately $21,000,000. (Geraldton total rate collection is $42,000,000). From there we need to look at St George’s beach which is also under threat and of then up to Drummonds. The costs of simply chuckingin some rocks and sand at Whitehill road would be around $1,500,000 a year to build and maintain.
So where does the funding come from if the City has no way of paying for these works itself? The State Government. Application for funding for Beresford was finalised in February 2016 and we are eagerly awaiting the outcome of this application so that we can commence works to save our northern beaches. This process is probably not as fast as everyone would like but it is a process that needs to be followed. When it comes to responsibility for funding costal protection works, the State Government is responsible as they constructed the Port and the Marina and are of the owners of foreshore reserves. We as A City have a role in advocating for the funding and in consulting for the design.
As a City we are working as fast as we can to get real science behind our coast line so that we can make smart, effective and sustainable decisions as to how we invest Government funds to protect our coast line. Without the science the State will not fund coastal works. Randomly chucking in rocks here and there and constructing groynes without due regard for the remaining cost line has failed us in the past, creating the problems today and we do not want to continue see new problems such as Whitehill road created in the future as a result of actions wetake today.
Failure to provide a detailed scientific solution to coastal protection could result in a total loss of beaches to the north, replaced by a long line of limestone groynes and concrete seawalls. Surely this is not what the people of Geraldton want for their coastline?
Shane Van Styn
Mayor City of Greater Geraldton