Wooli Dune Care Group member Ed Somerville stands on top of an access point on the dunes.
Wooli Dune Care Group member Ed Somerville stands on top of an access point on the dunes.

WOOLI?S EROSION THREAT

By SALLY GORDON and EMMA CORNFORD

THE peak of the sand dunes leading to the beach at Wooli are carpeted green with spinifex grass.

Tables and chairs belonging to residents sit facing the brilliant blue surf.

But according to a coastline management study, if a major storm was to hit the village, 22 beachfront houses and their backyards could be seriously affected by coastal erosion.

The impact of erosive activity is becoming more prevalent, with coastal councils from Sydney to Bryon Bay forced to look at ways of dealing with accelerated erosion eating into dunes. A report to the Clarence Valley Council suggests that if a significant storm hit Wooli Beach and caused large scale coastal erosion, the potential associated costs could be beyond its financial capacity.

It has been recommended that council reviews a Coastline Management Plan for Wooli in light of continuing erosion that poses a major threat to the village.

Council currently is operating under a management plan that was adopted by the former Ulmarra council in 1998.

Under the plan if council was to implement strategies such as a seawall or groynes to fix erosion problems, it could be looking at protection works worth more than $17 million.

"All the options that are available for council to deal with it (erosion) are very expensive and fall into the class of hard engineering works," council's director of environment and planning, Rob Donges, said.

"We're operating on a strategy that was adopted by the Ulmarra council a number of years ago and a decision on how to proceed into the future needs to be made by the Clarence Valley Council."

Mr Donges said another approach, as contained in the former Ulmarra council's management plan, involved a property buy back scheme that would be extremely expensive.

However, residents are not interested in selling up for the sake of safety.

"There is no way people would agree to that," one Wooli resident said.

"Most of us have lived here for years and they'd have to carry us out in a wooden box."

Despite technical advice, many Wooli residents claim erosion is not a major threat.

One female resident, whose father bought land at Wooli in the 1940s and has lived there for years, said erosion was no worse than it was back then.

"(Erosion) is not an issue for those of us who have been here for years. If we thought our homes were going to fall into the sea then we wouldn't be living here," she said.

"Yes, we get erosion when there's a big storm like in 1996 ... but the sand comes back."

John, another resident, agreed.

"It comes and goes all the time ... but I don't think it's a threat to our homes, no," John said.

"Whenever you get a decent storm it either brings sand or it takes it away, but those kinds of storms affect everywhere from Newcastle to the border."

"Exactly," the female resident said. "It hits everywhere. I mean, pity help Yamba, Brooms Head and Red Rock if that ever hap- pens."



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