Mayor exercises discretionary powers for emergency works at St Georges

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn has exercised his discretionary powers under the Local Government Act to begin emergency works to mitigate erosion at St Georges Beach.

On Tuesday Mayor Van Styn approved immediate works which include the construction of a low level sandbag groyne and sand nourishment works.

Mayor Van Styn said it was with careful consultation with City staff that he decided to make the executive decision.

“I understand how rare it is to utilise this power but this is an extremely important issue that demanded immediate attention,” he said.

“Without me exercising my rights under the Local Government Act, this process could have potentially taken months which is time we just don’t have.

“We have very important community infrastructure at risk and that’s why I took immediate action.”

CEO Ken Diehm said the City asked the Mayor to consider the urgency of the matter and move this forward as erosion posed imminent threat to essential community infrastructure.

“We regularly review and monitor coastal erosion and it is vital we take the necessary steps to protect our essential community and public infrastructure,” Mr Diehm said.

“With damage that occurred over the weekend, we can see that the toilet block at Rundle Park and the road near St Georges Beach is under great threat.

“We have to act fast and look at our options, hence why the Mayor has used his discretionary powers to ensure an interim solution can be implemented before any further damage occurs.”

The City have engaged specialist consultants Royal HaskoningDHV to develop a foreshore protection scheme for St Georges Beach. A report from the company showed that erosion was the result of short period wind generated waves coinciding with high water levels.

The City are now working off Haskoning’s recommendation for a low-crested sandbag groyne and sand replenishment works.

“We believe the groyne will help to capture the sand that is getting washed away and it will give us more time to work on a long-term solution not just for St Georges but for the rest of our coast including Sunset Beach and Drummond Cove,” Mr Diehm said.

Whitehill Road in Drummond Cove has also been under scrutiny following damaging storms over the weekend.

Mayor Van Styn said the process being undertaken to combat erosion could not be rushed.

“We are not trying to jump the gun and we are going through all appropriate processes. A long term solution is something that cannot be rushed,” he said.

“Sand is moving from the south to the north and we are working with specialists on the Beresford Foreshore and are following the Department of Planning’s coastal hazard risk management and adaptation planning guidelines (CHRMAP) process.

“We know this is a sensitive issue and we have engaged with the community to ensure we get the best outcome for our residents.”

Works at St Georges Beach are estimated to cost $650,000 and there is money in the 2015/16 budget to undertake the project.

The groyne and sand works will begin in the coming weeks and may take up to two weeks for completion.

Traffic management will be in place during this time. Motorists and pedestrians are advised to exercise caution and obey all warning signs and direction from authorised City personnel and contractors.