An extremely dubious exercise

Forum –

The news about the proposed Wamberal seawall makes alarming reading (“Community say invited on five Wamberal seawall options”, CCN 305).

All the five designs are described as a “permanent solution” but, of course, they are not.

With the pace of climate change that we are facing, this kind of engineering intervention is an extremely dubious exercise that requires close questioning: will the designers post a surety bond, guaranteeing us against failure, if the wall turns out to be less permanent than they claim?

This would be a good test of the certainty with which these options are put forward: if the designers aren’t prepared to stand behind their work, we have the right to feel highly suspicious about the validity of any claims about the lifespan of the installation.

It is notable that none of these designs comes with a cost/benefit analysis.

The work so far has already cost ratepayers $250,000, and we are now being asked to buy a pig in a poke, as far as the final design is concerned.

At a time when we are being gouged for massive rates increases and when the Administrator is supposed to be exercising the greatest economy in Council activities, do we need this kind of expensive commitment which seems to have little widespread benefit for the community?

We are promised that a cost/benefit calculation will be provided, and it is to be hoped that one of the options studied will be a “no-action” possibility, so that community comments can be made with a full knowledge of the situation.

Doug Williamson’s letter (“Time to call in King Cnut”, CCN 305) seems to sum up the matter adequately, although poor old King Cnut gets his usual bum rap, as a kind of megalomaniac despot.

In fact, what really happened was that Cnut got tired of the sycophantic praise of his court members who were willing to make out that he was powerful enough to turn back the tide and decided to demonstrate to them that they were talking rubbish, by placing himself in the path of the incoming tide and allowing it to wash over his feet.

It doesn’t seem to be recorded whether he forced his courtiers to stand with him, but it would certainly have been an appropriate action in the circumstances, since he didn’t have the option of requiring them to post a bond.

Email, Aug 17
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy

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