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A Geographical Issue Affecting Australian Environments

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Beach recession is the diminishing of a beach. Before white settlement in Australia this was never a problem. But since Australia was colonised its inhabitants have fought a constant struggle against Mother Nature. Since we have built so close to the sea we must take extreme measures to protect our lifestyles. Narrabeen is one of the many places that have building in great danger from the sea. It is predicted that during the next big storm many of these houses will be destroyed. This whole situation could have been easily avoided if the council had warned residents that by building or purchasing houses near the beach they were at risk during a storm. Because the council didn’t say this they are to blame and therefore if the beach houses and properties are destroyed they could be liable to litigation. Therefore the council is breaking it’s neck trying to find a solution to this problem, they have discussed and raised many different options, among these are:

1. Beach nourishment

2. A sea-wall

3. A buy-back scheme

4. A ban on beach development and property purchasing

Beach nourishment is the artificial replenishment of a beach through artificial means. It is a short-term solution for a long-term issue. Dredging is the most common way to nourish a beach; it is the moving of sand from one part of the beach to another through large pumps. Beach nourishment is an excellent way of replenishing a beach because all it does is move sand from one place to another and the waves bring the sand back again in time. This means that there are hardly any negative effects. The only downside is the cost. Dredging is incredibly expensive, and if it were repeated again and again the money of the entire area would soon be drained.

For this reason Narrabeen Collaroy have not dredged the beach. It is a process that they discussed but rejected.

A sea wall is a wall that is built to protect the construction that is done behind it. It allows people to build and live near the beach without risk to their properties. A sea wall however destroys the beach, when waves crash against it they try to undermine the wall, before long the sand is all gone and beach nourishment would be needed to replenish the beach. Thus the cost is that of the sea wall plus that of beach nourishment. The beach could be let to decline and disappear but that would destroy the tourist destination that beaches have always been.

For these reasons Warringah council have decided not to build a sea wall in Narrabeen or Collaroy. They realised that the money they gain from tourism on the beach was greater than the money they get from taxpayers who live on the beach. Taxpayers would also want the council to pay for it with their own money rather than that of the taxpayers because it is their fault.

A buy-back scheme is when properties are bought from residents in an area by the council, the houses are then destroyed. This is an excellent solution because it is fair for the residents (they get market value for their house where it would not have been bought at all otherwise, and the council is just paying for it out of everyone else’s money. So in a way the person is selling the house and paying for part of it with his own money.

Warringah has implemented this plan in Narrabeen Collaroy, however it is not enough on its own, although it is excellent it has its problems, people can still build properties there and they can sell to people other than the council. In the next section I have explained how the council combated this.

A ban on beachside development and domestic and industrial property purchasing is when a council disallows people to purchase properties or build them near the beach. On it’s own this would make the council very unpopular as the people who have bought the houses would be unable to get their money back. They would have to live there for their whole lives. However when this is introduced at the same time as a buy-back scheme it becomes a great incentive to sell to the council rather than keep the house.

Warringah council implemented this plan because it was the only one (along with a buy-back scheme) that they could afford to implement. These two plans reduced the risk of a lawsuit against them because they were accepting the blame and buying back the houses that they had allowed to be sold and built. However many people did not sell their houses rather keeping the house and passing it along to their children. This was something that the council could not stop so therefore many houses still stand.

In conclusion beach recession is a great risk on beachside development but the houses can be saved through many different procedures. Our council is trying very hard to correct its mistakes (either because they don’t want to risk a lawsuit or because they actually have seen the err in they ways).

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