OPINION: Risking all our beaches for one
I'M NO fan of rock walls and groynes such as the one Byron Shire Council has planned for Belongil.
What concerns me much more is the proposal further down the track to pump sand from Tallows over to Clarkes once the rock wall and groynes are in place. This is being sold to the public under the innocuous heading of "sand nourishment".
Sounds harmless enough until you understand that the sand is removed from where nature has put it, and pumped to where nature is constantly removing it. Anyone see a problem yet?
A similar system was built at the Tweed River mouth. Shortly after the Tweed system was turned on, beaches to the south began to experience severe erosion. The southern end of Kingscliff is a prime example. It's also worth noting that it appears to coincide with the ongoing erosion problems at South Golden beach and Belongil. Coincidence? That's for you to decide.
If they take sand from Tallow beach, and release it at Clarkes as proposed, then what happens to the residents at Suffolk Park when we have another big storm? Where does BSC think the sand that holds the dunes together at Suffolk comes from? It would also make the northern end of Tallows more vulnerable to ECL damage and severe erosion from large south swells. It means that the diverted sand could bypass The Cape, and therefore starve The Pass, Wategos and Cosy Corner, possibly ruining the breaks there.
If we then consider that since the Tweed system was built, the natural flow of sand to the south during spring from the northerly winds has been reduced. We can see that the only reliable source of sand left has been coming north around the Cape from Tallow beach to the south. We can ill-afford to divert this flow.
If sand levels are increased via nourishment at Clarkes and therefore by default onto Main beach, The Wreck and Belongil there would also be the risk of creating a wider bank along that stretch that has a steeper sheer into deep water.
This could increase the ever-present NW current that runs down through the bay. Possibly a very dangerous situation for a popular tourist swimmers area, increasing the risk of more drownings.
It could also accelerate the speed at which the sand drifts towards Belongil. Sure the sand would slow near the proposed rock wall and groynes.
Yet we all know what rock walls and groynes do. Build on one side, and create more erosion on the other, depending on the prevailing current.
All this adds up to very bad news for surfers, any business that has an interest in tourism, and especially the coastal residents at the far southern and northern ends of the shire if these proposals go ahead. Has the council really thought this one through? I suspect not.