5 years of sandbags on Clarkes proposed! Make your submission NOW.

SEE our key points for a submission below. They were due on Friday 16 July but we reckon you’d be good to put one in before 9am on Monday 19 July.

From the DPIE website:
NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands (Crown Lands) constructed a sandbag seawall and undertook dune rebuilding and imported sand to Clarkes Beach in October and November 2020. The works were designed to provide temporary protection from coastal erosion. Crown Lands now intends to apply for development consent for the works to remain in place for an estimated 5 years


  • Byron has long had a policy of ‘planned retreat’ – structures should “retreat” now to a safe place. This should not take 5 years to achieve. 
  • A Development Application designed to support buildings with sandbags is a bad signal to send to the community. It creates an expectation that buildings that are threatened by erosion can expect similar treatment and the community, supported by the NSW government and legal precedent, does not wish to encourage this. 
  • Structures that are on the dunes cannot be the reason that sandbagging gets supported for long periods. Dunes need to be able to self restore — and they will if natural processes can occur. 
  • The bags are already there beyond their 3-month “emergency” life and a DA to keep them there is not what Byron wants; they are only supporting structures on the dunes. If there were no buildings or other structures, then this DA would not be necessary.
  • Crown Lands agreed to placing the bags as an emergency measure to be removed after 3 months. Their removal should be the priority, not the prolongation of the bag wall.
  • The benefit of removing the bags immediately is the ending of downstream erosion (the “end effect”). Other benefits are that turbulence is reduced at the bags themselves, and erosion with it.  
  • Monitoring shows the coast moving inland now and the rate is likely to increase with climate change and sea level rise.  All modelling predictions confirm both those effects.
  • At the same time, sand is beginning to come around Cape Byron and into the Bay but it is not adhering to the dunes and it appears that the high escarpment and the bags are part of the reason for the lack of accretion.
  • Byron is in the midst of developing a Coastal Management Plan and this project could potentially conflict with or hold up that process.
  • If there has to be a DA, an Environmental Impact Statement must be undertaken – an EIS could examine alternatives to the proposal to extend the life of the sandbags from 3 months (already expired) to five years.
  • The EIS must go on Public Exhibition.
  • The benefit of keeping the bags appears to be administrative, in that years are needed to decide the future of the Cafe building, and maybe of Reflections caravan park structures.  A key question is therefore, why not remove the Cafe and Reflections structures now and allow the escarpment to collapse to a safe configuration (naturally or with help)?
  • It appears the need for bags at the Cafe was due, in part at least, to Reflections placing bags on the escarpment near their commercial activity.  Information we have received is that there will be two DAs, one for each line of bags. Given that it is all Crown land and the bags, should the two lots of bags not be dealt with as one DA, because each impacts the other?

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