HAVE YOUR SAY

Collaroy sea wall: Work should stop immediately, objectors say

WRONG SPOT: Tom Kirsop and Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches' Brendan Donohoe want the sea wall build to stop. Pictures: Geoff Jones
WRONG SPOT: Tom Kirsop and Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches' Brendan Donohoe want the sea wall build to stop. Pictures: Geoff Jones

IT might be being billed as the multimillion-dollar solution to coastal erosion, but some residents say construction of a giant sea wall in Collaroy and Narrabeen should be stopped immediately.

The wall is being constructed to protect homes and utilities from large swells and storms, but Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches president Brendan Donohoe said it could signal the end of the beach.

"We love the beach and the beach won't exist if they continue with this wall," he said. "When [big swells] hit a vertical face there's only one way for the energy to go and the sand will get sucked straight out.

"There will be two blocks of unwalkable beach after a big surf event, because the sand will get sucked out. Absolutely it'll present a danger to people walking along that section of the beach after a storm.

"We want an immediate moratorium on any extension of the wall."

Northern Beaches Council has already approved eight development applications for 'coastal protection works' that feature a sea wall. This represents 32 of the 49 land parcels requiring coastal protection.

The latest DA, which will protect five properties in the block between Clarke and Mactier streets, attracted more than 130 submissions from the public.

There will be two blocks of unwalkable beach after a big surf event because the sand will get sucked out.

Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches president Brendan Donohoe

Mr Donohoe said "there's huge community rage" and that rock revetments should have been built instead.

"The beach recovers far quicker after a storm with a rock revetment wall than a sea wall," he said. "Rock revetments are large boulders sloped back towards the house."

And, it seems council agrees, but there is simply not enough room, with only half the properties having enough space for a rock revetment. The other half would need to extend about 10 metres onto the public beach.

A council spokesman said alternative sea wall designs, such as the one under construction, are considered when it's not possible to have a rock revetment within the private property boundary.

 Artist's impression of the completed sea wall. Image: Northern Beaches Council

Artist's impression of the completed sea wall. Image: Northern Beaches Council

Mayor Michael Regan said council's challenge is to "manage the impact of planning decisions made over a century ago".

"Damage done to the beach and properties at Collaroy in 2016 prove that this problem cannot be ignored," he said.

"Protection works have been on this part of the beach for more than 40 years and the new works maintain coastal processes, have a smaller footprint, are almost all on private property and will remove around 4000 square metres of rock from the public beach."

Cr Regan said while the wall looks imposing under construction, once complete at least three quarters will be covered by sand most of the time, landscaped and integrated with the surrounding area.

A council spokesman said all submissions will be taken into consideration, and this DA will be assessed by the Local Planning Panel. Council expects more sea wall DAs to be lodged, with applications for the remaining properties expected before the end of 2022.

Residents are footing 80 per cent of the bill for the construction of the walls, with the remaining 20 per cent split between council and the NSW Government.

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