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Cracks emerge in push for promised Wamberal revetment wall on NSW Central Coast

By Emma Simkin, Jake Lapham and Mary-Louise Vince, Sunday September 13, 2020 - 08:49 EST

Cracks are emerging in plans to address the severe erosion that has homes on the brink of collapse on the New South Wales Central Coast.

, prompting all levels of government to commit to building a seawall as the solution to protecting homes and surrounding infrastructure.

Leading the charge for a revetment is beachfront home owner Chris Rogers.

"If a revetment goes in permanent, and it protects the beach and it's a good thing and the sand and everything stays, why wouldn't you do it?" he said.

In lock step is the State Government, which established a taskforce with the "explicit intention of driving an outcome for the plan and design of a seawall", according to Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock.

But a growing and increasingly vocal band of local community members are amassing in opposition to any structure.

'Community hasn't been included': action group

Felicity Phillips started an online group called Wamberal Beach Save Our Sand which attracted 1,500 members.

She is at the forefront of an emerging anti-seawall coalition.

"We're really angry that no one else in the community has been consulted about this," Ms Phillips said.

"The reports are: 'Wamberal residents want this seawall', well, there's 60 people that live on the beachfront, what about the other 6,000?"

She is concerned about what a seawall could mean for nearby Wamberal and Terrigal lagoons.

"The science is, at the end of the wall it erodes," Ms Phillips said.

Mr Rogers claims opposition to a revetment is misguided.

"Once the sand itself starts coming back naturally, it's going to prove that a revetment won't destroy the beach, it will protect it," he said.

"I think that group wants the same thing that we want; a protected beach that everyone can use."

A beach for generations to come

Also throwing his support behind the new group is 19-year-old Hugh Naven, an economics student from the nearby suburb of Erina.

He is worried about the precedent a seawall could set for the rest of the country.

"Rather than being known for its amazing beaches, it's going to be known for its seawalls, which doesn't sound very appealing to me," Mr Naven said.

He thinks every option should be considered.

"Whether it's coastal retreat, whether its a seawall, whether it's moving the houses back on the properties, whether it's putting them on stilts, whether it's an artificial reef," Mr Naven said.

A core concern of the anti-seawall group is that a seawall could spell the end for the recreational use of the beach.

Mr Naven wants to see the Wamberal beach exist for generations to come.

"I'd love to have my kids grow up here, I'd love to be able to push them onto waves here, but if there's no beach I can't be doing that," he said.

Wait and see

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Adam Crouch said plans for a long-term solution at Wamberal are in the early days.

"People are making judgements without any information whatsoever, so I'd say rather than jumping onto a social media page, wait until the options are actually put on the table," he said.

The Wamberal Taskforce has met twice since its establishment and Ms Hancock says community consultation will increase in the coming months.

Taskforce chair Phil Watson acknowledged that any solution needed to provide protection against erosion as well as "improve the recreational amenity attributes of Wamberal Beach".

The taskforce is expected to table its recommendations by the end of the year.


© ABC 2020

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