Geraldton Mayor claims erosion report doesn’t stack up

Headshot of Sarah Steger
Sarah StegerGeraldton Guardian
A gazebo teeters precariously close to the encroaching sea behind Drummond Cove’s John Batten Community Hall.
Camera IconA gazebo teeters precariously close to the encroaching sea behind Drummond Cove’s John Batten Community Hall. Credit: Adam Poulsen, The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn has cast doubt on the Federal Government’s report on coastal erosion in WA, saying parts of the assessment were outdated and no longer accurate.

In June, Mr Van Styn stressed the need for action at Sunset Beach amid fears severe storm activity could erode the rapidly disappearing coastline.

But recently he told the Geraldton Guardian the call for urgent action failed to be highlighted in the Federal Government’s Assessment of Coastal Erosion Hotspots in Western Australia report.

Released last week, the country’s first State-wide coastal erosion report listed Drummond Cove among 12 other coastal hotspots in WA (including Monkey Mia and Seabird) as having the second-highest management priority.

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Of the 55 hotspot locations, 21 have high management importance within the next 25 years.

At the top of the list were Port Beach at Fremantle and South Thomson Bay at Rottnest Island, followed by coastlines including Sunset Beach, which was listed as low priority in the next five years, Point Moore (medium priority in the next five years) and Beresford.

While the latter was flagged as low priority for now, all three of the Geraldton shores were listed as high management importance within the next 25 years.

Mr Van Styn claimed the report was based on old information, pointing to the recently completed $23 million Beresford Foreshore Project.

“The report contains no new information,” he said.

“It’s just an update to a report from a few years ago.

“Beresford has been flagged as a hot spot, forgetting the foreshore project on Chapman Road.

“Yes, it still needs some action, but to say nothing’s happened is incorrect.”

Mr Van Styn said he had been surprised to see Sunset Beach marked as low risk “when in actual terms it’s actually at a very high risk now”.

The cost of managing the 55 locations over the next five years is $110 million, with more money needed in the longer term.

The State Government announced it was investing $1.54 million in 39 projects along WA’s coastline on Tuesday, revealing $90,000 would be allocated to four locations in Geraldton.

WALGA president, councillor Lynne Craigie, said while the announcement was welcome, the report showed the State needed “much more to achieve any real change” in the long term.

WA Transport and Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the funding would assist in rehabilitating dunes, engaging volunteers, removing invasive weeds, planting and protecting native fauna, developing coastal and foreshore management plans, beach monitoring and data collection, and sand nourishment and bypassing.

Member for the Agricultural Region Laurie Graham said he was pleased with the grants.

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