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While the Brooms Head Beach and Lake Cakora Coastal Zone Management Plan is now certified, Clarence Valley Council will not be taking any action to alleviate erosion at Brooms Head Caravan Park until a design is completed, unless human life is threatened. The council’s environmental planning coordinator, Scott Lenton, said a “geotechnical investigation will feed into the next phase of the project, which is to do a design and environmental assessment for the extension of the revetment wall to go along the reserve”. Image: Steve Otton.

Action on Brooms Head erosion on hold

Geoff Helisma Clarence Valley Council (CVC) will not be taking any immediate action to ameliorate erosion at the northern end of Broom Head Caravan Park. The park suffered a serious erosion event two weeks ago; however, CVC will only act when there is a direct threat to people, the council’s environmental planning coordinator Scott Lenton said. “Essentially, the main intent is to protect human life, it’s not about protecting assets, so [the CZMP] doesn’t actually propose we do anything other than ensure people are safe,” he said. “As part of the certified coastal zone management plan there is a document called an emergency action sub plan – it guides council’s response when we get an erosion emergency.” Last week’s Independent stated that the final draft of the 2015 Brooms Head Beach and Lake Cakora Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) recommended the extension of the existing revetment wall to “southern bridge abutment” as a “high priority” in its cost benefit analysis section, which advocated construction to begin in 2016 – but bureaucracy moves slowly. Mr Lenton said the CZMP was not signed off by the Minister until August last year, and that there were two more ‘final drafts’ in December 2016 and February 2017 before the CZMP was certified. When asked why it had taken so long, Mr Lenton said: “It’s just a matter of working through the process – the bottom line is the Minister cannot approve a coastal management plan that the state agency does not agree with. “If the [agency] doesn’t agree, we have to modify it to what the agency wants. “The planning process has been underway for a considerable period of time; it started being reviewed back in around 2013. “The planning processes themselves are never a quick process, with all the liaison we need to do with government agencies and the like. “The project’s [design] is 85 per cent complete. We have a draft report – so council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage are in the process of reviewing that report to provide comments back to the consultant to finalise that project. “The main priority is to undertake a geotechnical investigation and review coastal hazards in what we call the lake front precinct – the area around the mouth of Lake Cakora where it comes out onto the beach.” Mr Lenton said the main consideration was what might occur north of the eroded area if the rock revetment wall to the south is extended. “If you do something in one place it causes a negative thing in another,” he said. “[We] don’t want to create a worse problem elsewhere – specifically the private land houses and public land north of the erosion.” Mr Lenton said the “armoured wall” in that area “is deemed non-engineered; there’s rock there but not in accordance with an engineer’s design”. “Erosion has been occurring [there] for many years, it’s episodic: whenever we get a large swell and high tides we get a bit of erosion there,” he said.