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Coastal Hazard Management Study for the Byron Bay Embayment

Byron Shire Council is reviewing the strategic
options that are available to manage coastal
hazards and risks in the Byron Bay Embayment.  The consultants Water Research Laboratory(University of New South Wales) have been engaged to undertake the management study. As part of this engagement, the sub-consultants Griffith Centre for Coastal Management are undertaking the benefit cost analysis and Umwelt Australia are undertaking the community consultation strategy.

The project will consider management options for all beaches in the embayment between Tyagarah Nature Reserve and Cape Byron, including Belongil Beach, Main and Clarkes Beaches.

Image Right: Indicative Coastal Management Options (IPCC) 

Final Report

The final report of the Coastal Hazard Management Study Byron Bay Embayment, was considered by Council at Ordinary Meeting 7 April 2016 (Report 13.5). Council resolved as follows:

Res 16-169 (relevant part only)

1.  That Council note the revised Coastal Hazard Management Study- Byron Bay Embayment (Final Revision 1.0), prepared by the consultants Water Research Laboratory (2016).

Council also resolved to adopt management strategies for incorporation into the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan Byron Bay Embayment

The consultant’s recommendation for coastal hazard risk management at Belongil Beach, was as follows: 

WRL recommends that as a minimum, the status quo be improved with Stage 1 (engineered seawall with walkway) of Option 6, the adaptive scheme. This sub option as a standalone measure has the best economic performance. Many parties who participated in the consultation process expressed a view that no form of coastal protection works were acceptable for Belongil, however, protection was supported by many other parties involved.

The engineered seawall with walkway offers an improvement on the status quo. The full three stage adaptive management protection scheme has components of:

    • Stage 1: Seawall with walkway (Figure ES.2);
    • Stage 2a: An initial self-filling trial groyne;
    • Stage 2b: Additional groynes; and
    • Stage 3: Small scale sand nourishment.

 Progress to later stages would be warranted if triggers within the adaptive scheme are reached, however, economic modelling indicates that, relative to the status quo, the cost of increasing beach width (above the status quo) over a 1 km stretch of Belongil is not economically viable.

The adaptive management scheme is flexible and staged, without large scale nourishment, and aims to minimise the financial commitment of Council and the State, while providing engineered protection to the built environment and alongshore access to residents and visitors. 

A number of measures were also recommended for the other coastal precincts of the Byron Bay Embayment. The Executive Summary of the report, details these recommendations.

Coastal Hazard Management Study Byron Bay Embayment (WRL March 2016) August 2015 Update

Coastal Zone Management Plan Project Reference Group

At Ordinary Council Meeting 9 April 2015 Council resolved (Res 15-139) to establish a community reference panel, to provide ongoing feedback during the preparation of the Coastal Zone Management Plan Byron Bay Embayment (CZMP BBE).

Subsequently, on 27 August 2015, Council settled on the membership and constitution of the Coastal Zone Management Byron Bay Embayment Plan Project Reference Group (PRG) (Res 15-410).

The objectives of the PRG are:

    1. Review draft Coastal Zone Management Plan Byron Bay Embayment (CZMP BBE) and provide feedback to staff prior to the tabling of the draft CZMP BBE at a Council meeting, and prior to the draft CZMP BBE being ‘adopted for public exhibition’.
    2. Provide feedback, input and support to draft CZMP BBE exhibition, consultation and communication activities.
    3. Overview submissions provided on the adopted draft CZMP BBE, review and provide feedback to staff on draft CZMP BBE ‘exhibition submissions report’ prior to tabling at Council meeting, and prior to amended draft CZMP BBE being adopted for ‘submission to the Minister’.

It is anticipated that the PRG will convene its first meeting during October 2015. Meetings will be held bi-monthly or as required. The reports of the meetings (minutes) will be reported to Council when required.

Further information on the PRG may be found here.

Councillor Workshop 13 August 2015

At this workshop, the consultant provided Councillors and staff with an overview of the most recent draft of the Coastal Hazard Management Study Byron Bay Embayment (version 5). This included new and additional work undertaken on the economic cost benefit analysis of management options.  The additional work was undertaken in response to comments from the State Government Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and in accordance with Council Resolution 15-139.

The workshop focussed on the outcomes of the:

    • probabilistic cost benefit analysis of the planned retreat (public / private) scenario;
    • cost benefit analysis of the ‘adaptive management’ protection scheme for Belongil Beach;
    • assessment of how economic costs and benefits would be distributed throughout the economy for the two main scenarios under consideration, being ‘planned retreat’ (public / private) and the ‘adaptive management’ protection scheme for Belongil Beach.

The consultant also presented a draft management recommendation, as follows:

Option 6, a three stage adaptive management protection scheme is recommended. This has components of:

    • Stage 1: Seawall with walkway
    • Stage 2a: An initial self-filling trial groyne
    • Stage 2b: Additional groynes; and
    • Stage 3: Small scale sand nourishment. 

The draft Coastal Hazard Management Study Byron Bay Embayment (version 5) is currently under a process of review including a technical review of the cost benefit analysis by the OEH.

Following consideration of all review comments, the consultant will be finalising the report. The timeframe for finalising the Coastal Hazard Management Study Byron Bay Embayment is dependent on the nature and extent of the comments, however at this stage it is envisaged that the final report will be tabled for Council’s consideration in coming months.

The consultant’s presentation can be accessed at:

May 2015 Update

In accordance with resolution 15-139, Council engaged the consultants, Water Research Laboratory and the sub consultants Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, to undertake additional work on the Management Study and the cost benefit analysis (CBA) of management options.  The additional work includes:

    • Quantitative, economic analysis of the potential hybrid ‘adaptive management scheme’ – which includes seawalls, small scale sand bypass, groyne(s).
    • Quantitative, economic analysis of an alternative model of ‘planned retreat’, based on a probabilistic assessment of storm demand, long term recession, and recession due to sea level rise.
    • Calculating the land tax revenue that may be relevant to properties at risk from coastal erosion.
    • Extending the funding model analysis to consider the quantitative distribution of the costs and benefits derived from the management options. 

The draft Management Study report will be revised to incorporate this additional work. The draft report will be subject to a final review. It is envisaged that the finalised report will be tabled for Council’s consideration in August 2015 however this is dependent on state government review timeframes amongst other factors.

Cost Benefit Analysis – advice from the Office of Environment and Heritage 

The economic or cost benefit analysis (CBA) of coastal hazard management options is an important part of the Management Study. On 14 February 2014, the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) provided advice on the draft CBA that raised some concerns. A summary of the draft advice is at Council Report 13.16 Ordinary Meeting 26 February 2015. 

Subsequently, further advice from the OEH was issued to Council and additional reports were tabled for Council’s consideration to resolve the issues. These reports are available at:

 At Ordinary Meeting 9 April 2015, Council resolved to progress the Management Study, and CBA, through the following approach:

15-139 Resolved that Council (relevant parts only):

1. Instructs WRL to finalise the management study as per variation quotation at attachment 5, taking into consideration recently received constructive comments from OEH's Chief Economist on the CBA component of the Coastal Hazard Management Study. 

2. Extend the scope of the WRL variation at attachment 5 to include an economic analysis for alternative models of retreat to that used in the CBA (as per OEH recommendation), to be included in an appendix to the revised CBA, or as otherwise deemed appropriate by WRL.

‘Directly Affected’ Belongil Beach Stakeholder Workshop
28 January 2015

At this workshop, the most recent version of the draft Coastal Hazard Management Study (draft management study) was overviewed to ‘directly affected’ stakeholders – specifically public and private immediate beachfront landowners / representatives of Belongil Beach. Councillors, staff, the consultants and representatives from Crown Lands and the Office of Environment and Heritage were also in attendance. 

The focus of the workshop was to obtain feedback on the consultant’s draft management strategy for the coastal erosion hazard at Belongil Beach. 

The consultant’s recommended strategy for Belongil Beach is still in draft form but was a key point of discussion at the workshop. The draft recommendation is based on a three stage, protective and engineered adaptive management approach, as follows:

  • Stage 1: Seawall;
  • Stage 2: Self filling groynes;
  • Stage 3: Sand bypass plant. 

Other issues discussed were: speculative funding models for implementing the potential management strategies, draft planning considerations / provisions for managing coastal hazard areas, and advice from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) on the staging of the consultant’s draft recommended strategy. This advice from the OEH was recently updated as per a letter to Council, dated 20 February 2015, as follows:

"Further, I understand there has been concern from Council and Belongil residents regarding recent advice from OEH advocating the seawall element of the so called "adaptive (or staged) management approach" to be contingent on the sand transfer scheme being in place to offset the adverse off-site impacts of a seawall. The Minister has recently advised OEH that in principle he supports the adaptive management approach currently proposed that would appear to have the general support of the Council and Belongil residents. Whilst the Minister is keen to ensure the sand transfer system remains a key element of the CZMPs adaptive management approach, he has listened to resident concerns and would permit the seawall component to be constructed prior to the sand transfer scheme in order to alleviate the threat to the properties. The Minister asked that this position be conveyed to council to update prior advice from OEH on this particular requirement."         

The updated advice has been forwarded to the consultants for their consideration. 

Submissions from workshop participants were invited. The submissions will be presented in a forthcoming Council report. 

Workshop materials included: 

A Council report on the progression of the coastal zone management plan Byron Bay Embayment can be found at Council Report 13.16 Ordinary Meeting 26 February 2015

Councillor Workshop 4 December 2014

At this workshop, Councillors and Office of Environment and Heritage staff were given an overview of potential, draft strategic planning provisions for incorporation into the draft CZMP. The measures were investigated and presented by BSC staff.

The draft planning measures were prepared in the hypothetical context of Council adopting and implementing an engineering, adaptive management strategy at Belongil Beach as per the consultant’s draft recommendation (presented at the November workshop). It should be noted that this discussion was hypothetical as a coastal hazard management strategy has not yet been adopted by Council.

The draft planning measures included the following elements for consideration:

  • A standardised Belongil foreshore seawall design comprised of rock revetment and incorporating a shared alongshore pathway,
  • A Belongil foreshore seawall alignment prescribing the location of the crest of new and approved foreshore works along Belongil Beach,
  • A range of planning provisions designed to ensure coastal hazards are taken into adequate consideration with respect to new development and with a view to avoiding the intensification of risks associated with coastal hazards now and in the future, for example lightweight, modular development in the ‘immediate coastal hazard zone’ and a 20 m trigger for the relocation of development.

Feedback was provided to staff who will continue to work on potential planning provisions for consideration as part of the coastal hazard management strategy for the Byron Bay Embayment.

Councillor Workshop 27 November 2014

As an outcome of the 21 August workshop, the consultants, Water Research Laboratory, undertook additional investigations for the management study. This project variation was co-funded by Council and the state government under the Coastal Management Program.

At this November workshop, the consultant provided an overview of outputs from the project variation, including:

  • A conceptual engineering, adaptive strategy for managing the coastal erosion risk at Belongil,  with the following stages:

1. Seawalls (initially from Border Street to the northern most private property at  Belongil);

2a. An initial trial groyne;

2b. Additional groynes;

3.   A small scale sand transfer plant.

  • Possible configurations for a small scale sand transfer system based at Tallows Beach which would deliver sand to Belongil Beach via an outlet at Clarkes Beach.

30 October 2014 Council Report

Following the August workshop, Council Report No14.11 was tabled at the 30 October 2014 Ordinary Meeting. As per the staff recommendation, Council resolved as follows:

14-560 Resolved (relevant part only):

1. That Council note:

a) The preliminary findings and feedback provided at the 21 August 2014 coastal workshop and the progression of the management study phase of the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan Byron Bay Embayment.

b) That for the purpose of finalising the Coastal Hazard Management Study Byron Bay Embayment, additional tasks will need to be undertaken and an additional amount of $36,000 will be required to fund these tasks.

c) That staff have submitted a request to vary the state government grant ‘2012-13-CM-0024 Coastal Zone Management Plan Byron Bay Embayment – update and preparation’ and this includes a request for additional funds of $18,000 which are being matched by BSC funds of $18,000.

d) That staff have written to the Minister for the Environment requesting an extension to the submission date of the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan Byron Bay Embayment, from 31 December 2014 to 30 June 2015.

Councillor Workshop 21 August 2014

The preliminary findings from the draft coastal hazard management study and draft benefit cost analysis were overviewed by the consultants and discussed at this workshop. The workshop was attended by Council staff, Councillors and representatives from the Office of Environment and Heritage.

The preliminary draft findings from the benefit cost analysis are presented in Table 1. Noting that Table 1 summarises all the costs / benefits analysed, and does not specify whether these may be incurred by Council, land owners, other agencies, residents etc. In addition, the costs/ benefits do not include factors such as environmental and surfing amenity impacts.

Table 1:  Preliminary draft  findings from cost benefit analysis of potential coastal hazard management options (WRL Power Point presentation, 21/08/14) 

From the feedback provided at the workshop, there are a number of tasks to be undertaken before finalising the study and developing a management strategy for the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan Byron Bay Embayment. These tasks are:

  • improved analysis of the environmental impacts of each of the potential management options considered in the study
  • the development of funding models for the potential management options, which itemise costs (capital, operational) to be incurred by Council, government (state, federal), private landholders and others
  • the development of an adaptive and staged engineering option, which considers the amount of funding likely to be available and incorporates:
      • seawalls,
      •  if / when required, a beach nourishment / sand transfer system and / or an end control structure,
      • a monitoring program that informs the adaptive stages, and
      • appropriate planning / development controls
  • finalisation of formal comments from the Office of Environment and Heritage and Council on the draft report. 

Subject to further discussions with the consultants and the Office of Environment and Heritage, these tasks will be undertaken over coming months. 

Councillor Workshop 13 March 2014

The outcomes of the consultation process were reported to Council and senior management at a workshop on 13 March 2014. The presentations from and the results of this workshop are documented in Report No.16.1., Ordinary Meeting 20 March 2014. After consideration of this report, Council subsequently resolved the following:
14-124 Resolved that the following management options progress to the benefit cost analysis stage of the Coastal Hazard Management Study Byron Bay Embayment:

a) seawall plus nourishment plus end control structure
b) seawall plus nourishment plus groynes
c) planned retreat (under public and private ownership)
d) seawall plus end control structure

Subject to further discussions with the consultants and the Office of Environment and Heritage, these tasks will be undertaken over coming months. 

February 2014 Consultation 

As part of the management study, the community and stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on what is important about the coast and the way the coast is managed now and in the future.  This information will be used to help set clear objectives for how the coast will be managed and to help determine which options could be combined to best meet community needs. The consultation process involved the following elements:

  • Coastal Survey – web based survey open to the general public
  • Coastal Workshop – held 18 February 2014 with invited participants ranging from local residents, businesses and community organisations, state government representatives and Byron Shire Councillors.  The results of the online survey were presented and discussed at the workshop.  In addition there was a presentation on and detailed discussion of the technically feasible options for managing coastal hazards and risks in the Byron Bay Embayment.  This discussion focused on managing coastal hazards at Belongil Beach.
  • Public submissions – written submissions were invited from the general public as an opportunity to express views on what is important about the coast and the way the coast is managed now and in the future, the deadline for submissions was 28 February 2014

Workshop materials included: 

 

The project is being part funded by the NSW State Government under the Coastal Management program

For further enquiries please contact Council's Coastal and Estuary Officer on (02) 6626 7135.