Three metres of sand lost at beach

THREE metres of sand has eroded this year from Yamba's Whiting Beach sparking fears Hickey Island could again be cut off from the mainland.

This could also potentially leave the $500,000 worth of work on the nearby car park and boat ramp, which is almost complete, at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Last year the aggressive erosion claimed the concrete access steps to the popular beach that sits just inside the Clarence River mouth, near the ocean-exposed Turners Beach.

This left beachgoers having to scramble across a small sand dune to dip their toes in the water.

Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder said the council was aware of the problem and working on contingency strategies to curb the erosion.

The most likely plan of action would be a three-pronged attack using sand, sandbags and adding to the existing breakwall structure in an effort to combat the erosion.

"Our staff, along with the office of the environment, are looking at what we can do there to prevent the erosion," Mr Schroder said.

He said the plan could include pumping sand from the western end of Hickey Island to build up Whiting Beach, building up the T-piece attached to the breakwall designed to divert river currents, and sandbagging to help retain sand on the beach.

Mr Schroder dispelled fears that the erosion could again cut Hickey Island from the mainland, saying it would take five years of severe erosion and no action on the prob- lem for that to happen.

He said there was some evidence to suggest that a change in current direction had contributed to the increased rate of erosion.

"There is a fair bit of evidence this year from the office of environment that the current has subtly changed direction," he said.

Evidence of the change of current direction, Mr Schroder, said, could be demonstrated at Wooli.

"In the past we have had a lot of problems with erosion at Wooli, but this year we haven't experienced them, whereas at Brooms Head we have had problems with erosion this year."

With evidence that the worst erosion at Whiting Beach occurs in the winter, Mr Schroder said the council would finalise its plan for Whiting Beach so it could apply for a government funding grant by February.

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