Aussie council’s $120 million beach project overpowered by outraged locals

Locals are celebrating their 'huge win' over the plan to construct 17 stone groynes on Perth's northern beaches.

Locals are rejoicing after they succeeded in convincing their council to reconsider a drastic plan aimed at combatting the rising problem of erosion on Perth's northern beaches.

The City of Joondalup ruffled some feathers last year after proposing the construction of 17 stone groynes every 350 metres along the coastline from Burns Beach to Marmion — costing an estimated $120 million.

The rock structures would extend from the beach into the ocean and "create compartments" to provide shelter from wind and waves after an assessment revealed coastal hazards are likely to increase due to climate change and the rising sea level.

Examples of the erosion on Perth's northern beaches.
The city of Joondalup proposed a plan to construct 17 stone groynes on Perth's northern beaches. Source: Draft Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan

Outraged residents quickly banded together to fight the plan, arguing the stone groynes would be an "eyesore" and therefore make the beaches less enjoyable. Others said they were concerned the structures would disrupt the natural flow of sand and surf life saving clubs.

Council agrees to redo erosion draft plans

Last month their noisy efforts paid off when the Joondalup council agreed to establish a community reference for the project and redo the current draft plans, Perth Now reports.

Locals sitting in the gallery erupted in applause after the decision was announced. Almost 98 per cent of residents who were surveyed about the groynes said they opposed it, the publication reports.

"I believe when the community speak we should listen to them and we have had an overwhelming response," Cr Daniel Kingston said. "We can see from the results that nearly 98 per cent of people reject what's in the content of the current plan."

Joondalup’s deputy mayor Adrian Hill said while a new plan is being drafted, the city "will continue to manage erosion and undertake further coastal monitoring and research including with regard to alternative adaptation options".

The coastline can be seen with black areas labelled 'groynes' where the proposed rock structures would be situated.
The council proposed building stone groynes to provide shelter from wind and waves which encourage erosion. Source: City of Joondalup

Locals celebrate council's groyne backflip

A Facebook group titled 'Stop The Groynes — Mullaloo & Whitfords Beach' announced their victory on December 13, exclaiming the more than 5,000 members "did it!"

"This victory is not just ours but a testament to the power of our incredible community," the post said. "If it weren't for this community's collective efforts, the first groynes would have been a reality in the next few years. The fact that we've successfully halted this proposal is truly inspiring."

Some group members said they "hadn't stopped smiling" since the news broke, as others celebrated the "huge win". "Still can't believe they were even considering to absolutely destroy one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the planet!" one local commented.

Ben Allen can be seen standing in front of a group of unhappy residents on the beach.
Ben Allen is one of the local residents who has spoken out against the groynes being built along the coastline. Source: 9 News

While most beaches are impacted by erosion to some degree, many are eventually able to replenish displaced sand in a cyclic pattern, Dr Mitchell Harley from UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory told Yahoo News Australia last year.

"There are a few locations where that is not the case and you do see these long term trends, this chronic erosion," he said. "Those particular cases are not necessarily related to any climate change effects, it's a long-term starvation of sand basically. These natural cycles of sand transport and basically they're losing more sand than they’re gaining in those areas."

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