Long Beach coastal erosion control

Project: Managing erosion of Long Beach and the impact on Bay Road

Timeframe: April 2022 until works are complete

Status: In progress

Cost and funding:

  • Council funded the short-term emergency works.
  • Council will seek funding for long-term solutions.
  • The NSW Government is providing $5M to be shared between three coastal management projects.

Page last updated: July 2024

Latest news: July 2024

We’ve had some fantastic input from the Long Beach community about how we can best manage coastal erosion in the long term. Our team will now work with the consultant to review all the feedback and find the most suitable solution.

Project details

We are working to:

  • reduce the likelihood of further erosion
  • protect Bay Road from collapse
  • keep the Norfolk Island pine trees.

Benefits to the community:

  • access to the beach
  • continued access to private properties
  • maintained visual amenity.

Background

In April 2022, an east coast low caused significant erosion of the Long Beach coastline. A section of the beach and grassed area washed away right up to the road running alongside the beach. Bay Road became vulnerable and likely to collapse in future storms or high seas.

The road is critical for vehicles to access beachside properties. To protect the area, we began planning emergency works straight away. We had to apply for many approvals from various NSW Government agencies before work could begin. Obtaining permission to undertake short and medium-term emergency works was a complex process that took considerable time.

In May 2023 high seas caused more damage, exposing the edge of Bay Road cul-de-sac.

A narrow strip of grass remains between the road and an eroded drop off to the beach
Damage to the Bay Road cul-de-sac in May 2023

Short-term emergency works

The NSW Government’s Resilience and Coastal Hazards State Environmental Planning Policy allows two short-term options:
  • sandbagging
  • beach nourishment, also called beach scraping.

To gain approval for the emergency works, we worked with various NSW Government agencies including:

  • Crown Lands
  • Department of Planning and Environment
  • Batemans Marine Park Authority; and
  • Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries.

The emergency works needed an environmental assessment, called a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. We prepared an REF to help reduce the likelihood of any unintended negative impacts.

Sandbagging

In July 2022, after acquiring necessary approvals, we placed sandbags along the beach in the affected area. The large sandbags were filled with imported sand of a compatible nature. Butted up together, they act as a buffer against immediate wave impact to the road.

The sandbags were a temporary measure and NSW legislation only allowed them to remain in place for 90 days.

Beach nourishment

In September 2022, we acquired necessary approvals to undertake beach nourishment works. This process involves taking sand from one location and placing it in the impacted area. In October we used heavy machinery to scrape a 300mm layer of sand from the southern end of Long Beach and push it against the eroded area.

The Department of Planning and Environment has advised that the method of sourcing sand over a large, shallow area is consistent with the approach taken by neighbouring councils. The southern end of the beach is replenishing through the natural sand movement associated with longshore drift.

The sand is providing a berm and is acting as a buffer while we look at long-term solutions.

Norfolk Island pine trees

The roots of large Norfolk Island pine trees on Bay Road were exposed by beach erosion. Council’s arborist assessed the trees and found them to be in good health. The root exposure did not represent a significant risk to tree health or to stability.

We provided protection against further erosion around the trees by covering the exposed roots with sand sourced from the southern end of the beach. Our arborist will reinspect the trees if any changes become apparent.

Medium-term solution

After the further damage caused in May 2023, we received approval to undertake more substantial work to protect Bay Road. We used specialised equipment to fill large sandbags made from geotextile fabric. Unlike the open bulker bags used as a temporary measure, these new sandbags are fully enclosed and weigh 2 tonnes each.

We strategically placed these sandbags in the most affected areas. These geotextile sandbags will significantly reduce the likelihood and severity of future erosion and shore up Bay Road against potential collapse. Similar sandbags have proven effective in other coastal areas of NSW.

Pending approvals, the geotextile sandbags will remain in place until a long-term solution is designed and implemented.

Long-term solutions

We are now exploring options to provide a more permanent structure to stabilise the shoreline. NSW legislation does not allow such works to be undertaken as emergency works and we can only implement them through a certified Coastal Management Program.

In 2022 Council adopted the Eurobodalla Open Coast Coastal Management Program (CMP). The CMP examines the impacts of coastal hazards and is our guide for managing these hazards. It is a plan of action, setting the long-term strategy for the coordinated management of land in coastal areas. Protecting Bay Road is identified as a priority in the CMP and it identifies a structure such as a low-lying revetment as a long-term solution.

The CMP was certified by the NSW Minister for Local Government in 2023, allowing us to focus on long-term works and secure funding. The CMP also includes emergency management plans to help us better manage similar future erosion events.

We have heard from the community that the main priority for a management outcome is one that:

  • does not disrupt access to the foreshore. The solution must ensure the beach remains accessible for all members of the community, including those with limited mobility and those who use watercraft such as kayaks
  • maintains the natural character of the foreshore. Long Beach residents and visitors value the open, unobstructed nature of the beach. Hard structures and vegetation must be low lying to maintain this character
  • does not compromise the amenity of the beach. Any hard solution will take up space on the beach. The right solution must protect this beach amenity as well as the road behind the beach.

In June 2024 our consultant prepared designs for three potential long-term solutions and we invited the community to learn about them and provide feedback before 10 July 2024. Our team will now work with the consultant to review the feedback and find the most suitable solution.

Options for long-term solutions

Each structure would typically extend about 1m above the beach, rising to the level of the land behind it. These structures would be set deep below ground to provide strong foundations and prevent undermining during storms. If high seas or extreme weather events wash away the beach, the lower parts of the structures may become exposed until the sand returns to the foreshore.

Option 1: Vertical concrete seawall

A narrow vertical concrete seawall would stand about 1m high above the beach and extend well below ground. It has a minimal footprint on the beach, can last 50 years, and requires little maintenance. Pedestrian access can be included via stairs, and various facing materials like sandstone can help it blend with the environment.

However, this option is the most expensive and involves deep excavation for the foundations. It also reflects more wave energy back onto the beach after storms, which can increase erosion.

Option 2: Sloped rock revetment

Large boulders would create a sloped embankment, mostly buried under the beach with only the top section visible above the sand. It can be buried and revegetated to look like a natural dune. It is moderately priced, with a lifespan of up to 50 years. It can be installed without harming the roots of Norfolk Island pines and is easier to build than a vertical seawall. It is more adaptable to future sea-level rise and can absorb wave energy, reducing wave reflections and minimising damage.

However, this option has a larger footprint on the beach and can be visually unappealing when exposed.

Option 3: Stepped geotextile sandbag structure

Specially designed sandbags would be positioned in tiers, mostly buried under the beach with just the top layers visible. It has the lowest initial cost and can be installed without damaging the Norfolk Island pine roots. It can also be buried and revegetated to resemble a natural dune, and when exposed, it has a softer appearance.

However, it has a short lifespan of five to 10 years, with higher maintenance requirements and ongoing costs. It is susceptible to damage from vandalism and more vulnerable in large storms. Additionally, it has a larger footprint on the beach when exposed.

Project updates

July 2024

  • We received some fantastic input from the Long Beach community about how we can best manage coastal erosion in the long term.
  • Our team started working with the consultant to review all the feedback and find the most suitable solution.

June 2024

  • Worley Consulting developed three potential long-term solutions for managing the coastal erosion at Bay Road.
  • We invited the community to a drop-in session at the Long Beach RFS shed from 4-6pm on 18  June to find out about each of the options and to provide feedback.

March 2024

  • We awarded the tender for designing the Batemans Bay Coastal Erosion Protection Works to Worley Consulting. The design includes developing measures to protect the eastern end of Bay Road from severe coastal storm events.

August 2023

  • We completed the geo-textile sandbag structure along the worst affected areas of Long Beach. Wrangling sandbags that weighed a whooping 2 tonnes each was no small feat. Stitching, lifting and positioning each bag took creativity, skill, and a lot of patience.

July 2023

  • We started filling the giant geotextile sandbags and placing them along the foreshore.

June 2023

  • We acquired the specialised equipment and materials needed to create a geotextile sandbag structure to protect Bay Road and the foreshore.
  • The sandbag structure will serve as a medium-term solution while we investigate long-term options.

May 2023

  • A huge swell eroded Long Beach exposing the edge of Bay Road again.
  • We gained approval from the relevant NSW Government agencies to install geotextile bags to protect the road.

March 2023

  • The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has committed to providing $5M for three actions identified in the CMP. One of these actions is the protection of Bay Road, Long Beach from beach erosion.
  • We are now liaising with NSW Public Works to project manage the coastal protection works.

February 2023

  • The CMP has been certified by the NSW Minister for Local Government.

December 2022

  • Council adopted the Eurobodalla Open Coast CMP at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 13 December. We then submitted it to the NSW Minister for Local Government for certification.
  • The beach nourishment work has been successful with the sand staying in place, protecting the road and Norfolk pines. The southern end of the beach is replenishing naturally after we sourced the sand from the far end.

November 2022

  • We hosted a drop-in session at the Long Beach RFS on 3 November. Council staff and consultants were available to answer questions and discuss coastal management solutions with the community.

October 2022

  • We started on the beach nourishment works using dump trucks and heavy plant to replenish the sand in the eroded areas. This was emergency work and was approved by relevant NSW Government agencies.
  • We placed the draft Open Coast Coastal Management Program on public exhibition for community feedback from Wednesday 12 October to Wednesday 23 November 2022.

September 2022

  • We received further approvals to undertake beach nourishment works and place sandbags along the Bay Road cul-de-sac
  • High seas washed away sand from around the base of the large Norfolk Island pines exposing the trees’ roots.
  • Our arborist undertook assessments of the trees.

August 2022

  • High seas caused erosion to the beach next to the Bay Road cul-de-sac.
  • We received the first approval to undertake beach nourishment works.

July 2022

  • We placed large sandbags along the affected area to protect Bay Road from further erosion.

June 2022

  • We met with various NSW agencies on-site to reach an agreement on permission to undertake emergency works
  • We redirected resources so we could prepare:
    • a Review of Environmental Factors (REFs)
    • various approval applications to undertake emergency works.

April 2022

  • An east coast low weather event caused significant erosion of the Long Beach shoreline.
  • The sea washed away sand right up to Bay Road, creating concern about the future of the bitumen road.

Community engagement

We liaised with the community at key stages while preparing the Open Coast Coastal Management Program (CMP). Working with the Long Beach Community Association and other residents, we considered the possible solutions for erosion management.

  • The community had an opportunity to give feedback while the draft Open Coast CMP was on public exhibition. The draft was available on our public exhibition web page until 23 November 2022.
  • We also hosted a drop-in session on 3 November 2022 for residents to talk with Council staff and consultants about the draft Open Coast CMP and actions for the Long Beach area.

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