The $300 Million Plan to Save Gold Coast Beaches 1

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
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A strategy to guide how the Gold Coast can better protect, enhance and manage the funding for the city’s 52 kilometres of beaches over the next 10 years has nearly reached final approval.

The council’s engineering committee has endorsed the 10-year plan, worth $300 million, for full council approval later this month.

The plan follows a period of community consultation which focused on strategic outcomes to ensure everyone can enjoy the area’s major tourist draw, keep the beaches healthy and clean, and safeguard critical coast infrastructure from storm surges and erosion.

The strategy identifies 13 key actions for the council to undertake in order to achieve four chief outcomes, including the protection of beaches and promotion of joint stewardship.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the beaches are a significant asset to the city, delivering social, environmental and economic benefits.

“This Strategy is about meeting the challenges of managing and protecting our coastal environment head on, as well as recognising the opportunities that exist to grow business and recreation activities,” he said.

“The city is investing $10.6 million this year alone on maintaining and managing our 52 kilometres of coastline, with an additional $8.1 million allocated to provide the country’s largest professional lifeguard service.”

He said it is crucial that the city works together with other levels of government, businesses and individuals to ensure the beaches were well-managed.

Recent wild weather has significantly affected the Gold Coast’s most prized asset, with the repair bill estimated at tens of millions of dollars according to coastal management experts.

Many Gold Coast beaches have all but disappeared in some areas, replaced by three to four-metre sand cliffs.

Bond University Professor of Environmental Management and Science Tor Hundloe, who is working on a coastal management plan in Old Bar, NSW, where three beachside homes have been lost to erosion, said artificial reefs were the only solution.

“The erosion on the Coast is severe and the council needs to get to work on a plan for the future before it progresses,” he said. “It would cost about $10 million to create one to protect a section of beach the size of Burleigh, so it will be costly….but the reefs will help ease the force of the waves, giving council a chance to replenish sand while not ruining surf breaks.”

As part of the strategy, development of the Surf Management Plan and Commercial Activity Plan is set to begin soon.

Committee Chair and Councillor Daphne McDonald said the Commercial Activity Plan would assist in decision-making about future beach use.

“It will look at what activity is happening on our beaches; monitor the impact the activity has, as well as guiding consideration of new activity on beaches,” she said. “The Ocean Beaches Strategy has been developed to help to shape the vision for our city’s ocean beaches over the next decade.”

The noted the strategy would offer guidelines for funding decisions over the next decade.

The Gold Coast’s combined tourism and surfing industries are worth an estimated $7.6 billion, which means that beachfront development will also be a key source of additional value.

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  1. John

    The council blames bad weather for causing beach erosion, but what kind of weather built the beaches in the first place. It certainly was not calm weather, how could calm weather or even medium weather have lifted the thousands of tonnes of sand to build the magnificent beaches that were there in the first place. Why is it that the same bad weather that used to build the beaches is now what is ripping them apart. Surely the reason for this happening would not be hard to work out. When the council installed the Southport Seaway it completely changed the beach natural engineering dynamics for the entire GC.
    The groynes of the Southport Seaway are an installed headland. A headland that did not exist before its construction. Now a totally new set of conditions apply. The currents concentrate as they flow around the headland causing turbulence which added to the pounding of the big waves causes the area there to be eroded so it gradually over decades gets much deeper.
    The Sand at Surfers Paradise for example has not got a chance of not getting washed down into the eroded out hollow when heavy weather from the south east is tending to drive it in that direction. Likewise all other sand to the south of it is going to be driven into the hollow.
    On the north side of the groynes sandbanks at a higher level than the south side are being formed as the force of the sea lifts the sand from the south side and dumps it on the north side. The elevated sand on the sandbanks is also at the same time being driven down hill north by the same south east winds. It could be said that this is just the Littoral Flow process being speeded up substantially.
    The usual bay that accompanies a headland is in the process of being formed initially in the Surfers Paradise area and from the above explanation it is easy to see why. The council now is facing an impossible uphill battle trying to install a beach well out from now where the new natural profile of the beach is. The new natural profile of the beach at Surfers Paradise is now probably well back behind the buildings there.
    There are now two options left for the council. One just let the erosion proceed so it continues to eventually to completely wipe out all of the G.C. beaches, or two completely demolish the Southport Seaway and all other groynes and structures including underwater reefs and all rocks etc. and it needs to do it now before the next lot of bad weather arrives so the strong forces of the weather can repair the beaches rather than destroying them.