Planned retreat is well established throughout the world

Photo: Klayte McSweeny, Photoslog

Forum –

The claim by Godfrey Franz about the Wamberal seawall boondoogle in “Planned retreat is a dumb unproven theory” Coast Community Chronicle, September 9, that, “if we stand aside … at least $100M plus of public infrastructure … will be damaged” is patent nonsense.

The dumb unproven theory in this matter is that you can build a permanent seawall along the Wamberal dunes and hold back the waves Cnut-style, without any long term concerns and without any undesirable side effects.

If there are going to be more severe and more frequent storm events that we’ve had in the past, as all forecasts seem to indicate, the sensible course is to adapt ourselves to the changing conditions, to reshape the dunes to protect the beach, to remove intrusive structures and to relocate structures that are badly sited and/or badly built but that can be salvaged.

I’m sure Mr Franz’s scientific study of posts in our waterways is highly convincing, perhaps he could submit a publication to Nature magazine on the topic.

But, the facts are that sea level is now rising at 3.4mm per year and this rate is increasing as Earth heats up because water expands with rising temperature, and ice melts with rising temperature, and adds to the volume of water in the ocean.

However, the more important impact is that there will be more damaging winds, greater wave action and higher storm surges, and that all of these phenomena will be more frequent as time goes by.

Of course, if there were no alternative to artificially confronting natural forces for vital reasons, that would be a different matter, but no such imperative applies at Wamberal.

Contrary to what Mr Franz contends, planned retreat is common practice and is well established throughout the world.

I have personally seen two instances of planned retreat implemented and I know of others that anyone can study, if he wants to take the trouble.

I do concede that a successful project would require active intervention by Central Coast Council and the Department of Planning, and that past performance by both these bodies is not encouraging in this regard.

However, common sense should prevail, even when dealing with local and state bureaucrats.

Email, Sept 12
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy