Beach plan stinks: locals

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Jay Mcdaniell has lived in Port Geographe for 5 years and continues to experience the wrath of the wrack.
Camera IconJay Mcdaniell has lived in Port Geographe for 5 years and continues to experience the wrath of the wrack. Credit: Catherine Massey/Catherine Massey

Port Geographe residents sick of stinking seaweed piling up in their suburb have slammed a new Department of Transport plan.

The report released this week detailed a “sand bypassing” trial which would move sand from the Western Beach, between Morgan and Guerin streets, to Wonnerup Beach.

After clearing most of the weed during a successful wrack pushing trial, which started in August, residents were disappointed with the plan they claimed would “set the project back another six years”.

Western Beach Residents Association chairman Peter Maccora said the proposal to extract sand from the Western Beach “absolutely defies logic”.

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“The whole premise of the groyne reconfiguration project was that the Western Beach has to be saturated with sand, but now because of poor planning or whatever else, Wonnerup is deficient of sand,” Mr Maccora said.

He said it appeared the department had not looked for alternative sources from which to extract sand.

“We’re essentially back to square one,” he said.

Mr Maccora has called on the City of Busselton to intervene and stop the trial.

“We’ve always emphasised that for the groyne reconfiguration to work, the Western Beach needs to be saturated with sand, and everyone’s agreed to that, everyone understands that,” he said.

“The work they did in winter allows more sand to come into the beach, further enhancing the amenity for the residents.” The Technical Working Group, selected in February, released the report after a nine-month investigation and a public meeting on Monday.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said the meeting between the DoT and the community was disappointing.

She said the department proposed a departure from the program which had seen “steady improvement” in the area since 2013.

“While nourishing Wonnerup Beach is essential, this should not come at the cost of compromising the improved beach profile at Port Geographe,” she said.

The release of the report comes just after Ms Mettam wrote to Transport Minister Rita Saffiotti on the management of the wrack and called for support for an annual July management plan. “While there has been gradual improvement in the profile over the past seven years, unfortunately the problem still remains,” Ms Mettam said in the letter.

In addition to the sand bypassing trial for 2021, the final report recommendations included the “highly successful” wrack pushing trial which began in August, a further investigation into sourcing sand from the Vasse River mouth, and an investigation into the removal and beneficial reuse of dry wrack from the Western Beach.

Geographe Bay resident Jay McDaniell, who lives further up the beach near the marina, continues to see wrack piling up, and said pushing it into the water would not help the issue.

“I don’t believe this is going to be solved until there is a solid beach that goes to the extent of the western groyne,” Mr McDaniell said.

“Until that happens, the wrack will continue to accumulate from the groyne back down the beach. No amount of pushing it into the water is going to stop that,” he said.

DoT director of coastal facilities Donna West said the report recommendations would guide the works program at Port Geographe for the next five years. The concerns expressed at the meeting resulted in the trial being delayed for one year to allow for further investigation and liaison with the community.

To see the report, visit trans port.wa.gov.au/projects/port-geographe-reconfiguration.asp.

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