Margaret River Mail

Storm damage: Supporters of the movement to protect the Gnarabup area coastline say there are long term risks to developing so close to the ocean. Photo: Sean Blocksidge

The Shire of Augusta Margaret River says it will consider a review of the land upon which a proposed 120 room resort will be developed in Gnarabup.

Preserve Gnarabup member and group lawyer Clare Gleeson recently lodged an application to the Shire, urging it to rezone the lots to public reserve and pay compensation to the Developer, which the group estimates at approximately the value of his recent $5.5million investment to purchase the land.

The group said the Shire’s own Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan 2015 (CHRMAP) shows the current coastline, Gnarabup Beach and Headland, Back Beach, the limestone cliffs and parts of the lots proposed for development fall within the 100-year allowance for coastal processes zone, while Gnarabup and Back Beach and all public access areas fall within the 10 and 20-year allowance zones.

“Everyone has seen the distressing loss of foreshore, public infrastructure, tourism facilities and homes on the NSW coast this winter. Every year the Australian coast is moving inland incrementally,” said group spokesperson Beth Carlessi.

“From the modelling done by the Shire, under the guidance of the WA Planning Commission, we know that all carparks, paths, boat ramp and the café at Gnarabup will be lost in the next 10 to 30 years.”

“The lots proposed for development sit a little higher on the delicate limestone headland. According to the modelling, they are in the zone that will form the new coastline within 100-years.”

“It would be financially irresponsible to approve further development on the headland and create future liability for the people of Western Australia.”

Beth Carlessi, Preserve Gnarabup

“We call on the State Government to support the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to reserve this land in its local planning scheme.”

Shire Director of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure Nick Logan said a review would be considered.

“The Council will soon formally consider a review of the issues associated with changing the zoning of this land from Tourism and Future Development to being Reserved under the local planning scheme,” he said.

Ms Carlessi said Gnarabup Beach was becoming narrower and steeper every year.

“Rising sea levels are already impacting the beach at Gnarabup. In past years, the decking outside the small café at Gnarabup has had to be repeatedly repaired or replaced after high swells wash its footings loose.”

“The limestone headland on which this development is proposed is fragile and riddled with caves. It is feeling the impacts of the rising ocean levels, drying climate and erosion.”

Preserve Gnarabup will soon launch a campaign to raise funds for compensation which they say would repay the developer for the purchase.