Sep 8, 2016

Minister may visit island


Denise Secomb

There is a renewed optimism that members of Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers Association can pin down elusive funds to shift erosion problems away from housing, units and the Esplanade at Nelly Bay and away from Nelly Bay Road.

The 50 year prediction for the Esplanade properties and the Esplanade road itself and the Nelly Bay Road section behind the beach crest is that these will fall into the sea.

The president of MIRRA, Mr Cameron Turnbull, told Magnetic Community News after the monthly meeting on Saturday: “By failing to comply with the recommendations of the SEMP (Shoreline Erosion Management Plan) report I think the State Government has exposed itself to (future) legal action from any properties along the front there.”

The Member for Townsville, Mr Scott Stewart, was invited to the MIRRA meeting to report to residents on what is impeding the implementation of the 2010 Nelly Bay Shoreline Erosion Management Plan, prepared for the Townsville City Council ready for the State Government to fund the solutions. Mr Stewart failed to attend.

He told MCN yesterday that he was at the V8s at the weekend but that the Minister for Ports, Mr Mark Bailey, would be visiting Townsville in a couple of weeks and he wants to bring him to the island to see the problem first-hand.

The beach erosion problems at Nelly Bay have surfaced since the construction of Nelly Bay Harbour. Several big trees have been lost and weather events have eroded the parkland buffer.

Mr Turnbull gave MIRRA members in attendance a copy of the letter he had sent to Mr Stewart inviting him to the meeting, to which was attached a summary requested by members of the key points in the Coastal Engineering Solutions-prepared SEMP.

Mr Turnbull put it to Mr Stewart in his letter that the whole project “is not really rocket science” and that presumably the public servants “have, by now thought their way through the permitting process”.

Mr Turbull respectfully put to Mr Stewart that, if there was some process now impeding the implementation of the plan, it should be known and made known to the residents.

Magnetic Community News put a series of questions to Mr Bailey and Mr Stewart, asking if money has been allocated in this year's budget for the implementation of the Nelly Bay SEMP recommendation to build a geo-fabric sand-filled groyne at Nelly Bay beach.

We asked for information on when the work will start and if there is no money in the State Budget for this project, we want to know why not.

We estimate up to $1million has been spent by Queensland Transport on beach works in recent years to deal with shoreline erosion at Nelly Bay since the Kelly Street bridge was built to the south arm of the Nelly Bay Harbour, with annual costs rising from $80,000 to $100,000. We asked the Minister to confirm this.

Mr Stewart replied yesterday: “It's crazy that the State Government keep spending (so much) money on the sand rectification work each year. ”

He made a commitment to attend the next MIRRA meeting, which is held at 10am on the first Saturday of each month at the RSL, Arcadia.

Asked if the groyne solution had been funded in this year's State Budget Mr Stewart said: “It didn't appear in this year's Budget as yet but the Minister is due up here in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping to get him over here (to Magnetic Island) to see the problem for himself.”

Mr Turnbull says, in his summary of the SEMP, that even if a groyne is built, there will be a need, as pointed out in the SEMP, for Ongoing Beach Nourisment. The SEMP Clause 6.1.4.2 says of Ongoing Re-nourishment: “Approximately 1000 m3/year will need to be extracted and placed on Nelly Bay beach south of Yates Street to accommodate losses caused by the net southward transport of sand along this foreshore.

“The cost of this ongoing re-nourishment is estimated to be around $25,000 a year.”

On the Maintenance of Tidal Flow at the Breakwater Bridge, Mr Turnbull quotes clause 6.2: “On the basis of sand filled geo-textile bags forming the temporary training wall for a two year successful trial period, the overall capital costs would be approximately $230,000 to implement the permanent arrangement, then around $5000 per year for maintenance.”

He says, Clause 6.1.1 states: “The primary cause of the erosion problems currently being experienced on Nelly Bay beach is the obstruction of the natural re-nourishing supply of sand from Gustav Creek that has occurred following construction of Nelly Bay harbour.

“As part of the harbour works, a sedimentation basin was created just upstream of where the creek now enters the sheltered waters of the harbour. This occurs at the Sooning Street bridge. The intent of the basin was to intercept the sand that was previously delivered to the shoreline for two reasons:

* To prevent this sand from creating a siltation problem in the harbour; and

* To enable the sand to be removed from the sediment basin and placed on the down-drift Nelly Bay beach. This, in effect, replaced the natural process of creek supply to the coast with a 'mechanical' process...

“It is therefore recommended that all sand from the initial nourishment of Nelly Bay beach (to create the necessary erosion buffers, as well as for the ongoing re-nourishment (to maintain the buffers) be sourced from the lower reaches of Gustav Creek. This is simply providing a mechanical means of reinstating the natural littoral supply processes that nourished Nelly Bay beach prior to the construction of Nelly Bay Harbour.”

Essentially Mr Turbull points out that “the use of the term 'groyne' seems to have confused residents into somehow believing that would stop the erosion, whereas, in fact, all the training wall (colloquially called groyne) is intended to remedy, is the infiltration of sand into the opening under the Kelly Street bridge”.

Mr Turnbull explains the SEMP as follows: “The erosion itself is solved by a beach nourishment practice, taking sand from the lower reaches of Gustav Creek and placing that sand on the Nelly Bay beach south of Yates Street”.

He quotes from 4.2 of the report, where it says: “It is evident from the predicted shoreline recession plots that towards the end of the 50 year planning period, private residents fronting the (Nelly Bay) Esplanade will be threatened by complete loss – even for 50 year ARI events.

“Further south, where the Nelly Bay Road runs immediately behind the beach crest, the predicted erosion plots show that the road would be significantly threatened by 50 year ARI events.”

And at 5.3.1.1: “As stated previously, it is the foreshore along the Esplanade frontage of Nelly Bay which is most threatened by erosion in a 50 year planning period. A Do Nothing strategy on the shoreline would potentially lead to the loss of the Esplanade itself along with the front row of private dwellings.

“This scenario would therefore lead to considerable social trauma and substantial economic loss.”

At 5.3.2.3, the report writer, says: “Consequently the construction of a groyne does not in itself resolve the erosion problem but merely transfers it further along the beach.”

At time of production, MCN had not heard from the Minister who was in Cabinet meetings.

STOP PRESS

Magnetic Community News asked a number of questions of the Minister for Main Roads and Ports, Mr Mark Bailey. This is his response, received late on Tuesday at close of business, too late for our press edition.

Q: Has money been allocated in this year's State Budget for the implementation of the Nelly Bay Shoreline Erosion Management Plan implementation with the building of a geo-fabric, sand-filled groyne at Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island?

A: The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is currently working with Townsville City Council (TCC) to address the shoreline erosion at Nelly Bay.

Both TMR and the Council are in the process of obtaining concept designs and costing estimates, and that work needs to be done to allow both parties to develop a budget for the project.

Q: If so, can you please tell us when work will start?

A: Depending on these cost estimates, and subject to state and federal government agency approvals (including the Department of National Parks Sport and Racing and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) we are unable to provide a start date for construction.

Q: We estimate up to $1million has been spent by Queensland Transport on beach works in recent years to deal with shoreline erosion at Nelly Bay since the bridge was built to the south arm of the Nelly Bay Harbour with annual costs rising from $80,000 to $100,000. Can you confirm this, please?

A: TCC is responsible for addressing shoreline erosion at Nelly Bay, while TMR is responsible for maintaining the water flow under the breakwater bridge. This involves removing sand from under the bridge annually and using this sand to replenish Nelly Bay Beach.

The Department has spent around $700,000 conducting these works since 2004. The current annual cost to complete this work is about $70,000.

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