Erosion threat for Pearl Beach homes, says consultant

Pearl Beach could be one of the next areas where waterfront homes may be threatened by erosion, according to a local planning consultant.
Dr Helen Monks of Highlight Consulting in Wagstaffe has compared Pearl Beach to Wamberal in a recent newsletter which gives “a statutory perspective on how public and private coastlines are managed in our democracy”.
She reproduced a map from a 2017 Coastal Zone Management Plan, which shows the current storm erosion hazard line, the 2048 hazard line and the 2098 hazard line.
The map shows that the 2098 line is behind the development line.
Dr Monks commented: “In mid-July 2020, waves were scouring the beachfront boundaries of these properties, their fencing and landscaping.”
Her newsletter reproduces the objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and the Coastal Management Act, its Regulations and State Environmental Planning Policy.
“It is clear that coastal areas are managed primarily for public purposes (of many types), but not fundamentally for private purposes (eg residences and/or their temporary protection),” Dr Monks commented.
“Below the State’s multiple layers of strategic controls come local government’s strategic and operational controls.
“Under State supervision, Central Coast Council administers six Coastal Zone/Estuary Management Plans for precincts within the region (dated 2006-2017, based on 1990s plans and earlier studies).”
She said the coastal zone management page on the council’s website has “links to a number of other documents, including State and Federal documents which are a factor in any Council managing its coastal areas.
“Each one has been subject to years of preparation via studies, community consultation, public debate (media, Council Chamber, progress associations, professional bodies etc.), amendments, State scrutiny and eventually adoption and implementation.”
She used the Gosford Coastal Zone Management Plan for Ocean Beaches as an example, which “discusses funding options for recommended or optional works”.
“Table 3 refers to Pearl Beach – management actions. Table 19 refers to Wamberal Beach.”
Dr Monks said: “EP and A Act S149 Planning Certificates (now S10.7 Planning Certificates) which are usually produced every time a property changes hands (or on request for a fee) have documented the risks for coastal properties for decades.
“No-one is forced to buy an at-risk property, nor can any owner claim they did not know the risks.
“Should owners of equally risky properties at St Huberts Island, Pretty Beach and other parts of the region all validly expect other taxpayers, other ratepayers and other people carrying property insurance to subsidise their purchase choices and the consequences?
“If you have chosen a safe, dry, low-risk property, how do you feel about being asked to contribute to others’ much more risky choices?”

Newsletter, 21 Aug 2020
Helen Monks, Highlight Consulting