The mouth of the Wooli River before the construction of the breakwater. Photo taken around the early 1900s.
The mouth of the Wooli River before the construction of the breakwater. Photo taken around the early 1900s.

Erosion a man-made problem

A WOMAN with family connections to Wooli dating to the time it was first surveyed in about 1920 claims the Clarence Valley Council’s policy of planned retreat from the original Wooli village is flawed and dangerous.

Lyne Watkins, who has been visiting Wooli for more than 50 years, made a submission to Clarence Valley Council opposing draft recommendations to retreat from areas considered under threat from coastal erosion, leaving a number of homes at risk of falling into the sea.

She said her grandfather, Clarence A Lee, surveyed the village in about 1920 and her mother, who had visited for 75 years, still resided at the property brought by her grandfather at 90 Main Street.

She said the erosion at Wooli was the result of man-made and natural events and that the construction of the breakwater had a significant impact on sand movement.

“The Wooli breakwater restricts the natural flow of sediment from the river and the northerly progression of sand,” she said.

“Originally, the river had a wide opening that allowed large amounts of water in and out of the river easily.”

That flow, she said, was now severely restricted, preventing the natural movement of sand and causing flooding by blocking the release of large volumes of water during heavy rain.

“This is the real danger to the township,” she said.

Ms Watkins said the worst erosion occurred in front of properties where vegetation had been cleared in order to provide sea views.

“Other problem areas are where walk throughs have been cut and where vehicular access has been allowed,” she said.

“What is needed is an aggressive dune protection program with care in the management of the appropriate plant species for frontal, mid and high dune.

“Mowing and clearing of native grasses on the frontal and high dune should be prohibited.”

She said vehicles should be banned from the beach as they added to erosion problems.

She also questioned a suggestion in the draft plan that those with affected properties be offered leasehold land near the Wooli Public School for relocation.

“Why would an owner swap a freehold on high ground for a leasehold on low-lying flood-prone ground?” she said.

“All of the sites chosen for school and tennis court relocation were under flood waters as at October 4, 2010.

“I am unaware of any precedent where freehold land has been relinquished in exchange for leasehold land. Any such proposal would be vigorously opposed.”

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