Surfside Residents Rally Against Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program

A large group of Surfside residents gathered at Corrigans Beach Reserve on Saturday 4th November to protest the “at risk” status applied to their properties in the UNSW study that will be the basis for the new Eurobodalla Coastal Management Program (CMP).

Corrigans Beach was selected as the most appropriate site for the meeting because this is where a million tonnes of sand from the Surfside spit and northern sand shoals has ended up. This sand once protected Surfside from the inundation and tidal surges that Council and its consultants have now identified as a serious risk to the suburb.

Retired Surfside resident and engineer Mr Viv Sethi explained how dredging, bridge construction, and the development of sea walls on the southern shoreline had set up a scouring process that extracted sand from the northern sand banks and dumped it at Corrigans. He displayed photographic evidence of Corrigans reserve growing 300 metres seaward in the latter half of the last century.

Affected residents were incensed that Council and the State Government could undertake such a critical coastal management study without mentioning the “man-made “damage to the natural environment and their natural protection.

Mr Sethi went on to quote numerous Council reports that recognise where the Corrigans sand fill originated, and Council’s stated policy of “planned retreat “ in its Interim Sea level rise policy, that is still in force. According to Mr Sethi, “Surfside residents are the guinea pigs for a State Government coastal management plan that takes land without compensation, and ignores mitigation and defensive options”. He quoted the Wharf Road Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) as a prime example of the Government’s intentions.

For those readers who are not aware, Council has sterilised the development potential of the remaining Wharf Road waterfront land with a National Park style environmental (E2) zoning, and proposes buying back that land at its sterilised value. The NSW Coastal Panel has declared that title to the land eroded below the high water mark has reverted to the Crown.

The Surfside Group plans to approach the Eurobodalla Coastal Alliance (ECA) with a request that the ECA forms a Surfside chapter to give the affected residents a voice, and access to media outlets and the NSW Coastal Alliance.

Concerned residents said that it was too early to say what the Surfside group will be demanding, but it is obvious that a proper and fully independent study of the Clyde estuary erosion must be undertaken, and long term remedial/mitigation options examined, before the CMP is progressed. To ensure its independence, it was suggested that the State Government should provide a grant to the ECA to undertake this study.

Released on behalf of the ECA and Surfside Residents Group.

Viv Sethi

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