Political football in groyne debate

A proposed trial of a restored groyne at St Clair Beach in Dunedin has been voted down.

Reinstatement of a wooden groyne was pitched by Dunedin city councillor Jules Radich as a proven way to build up the beach by trapping sand, but colleagues were not convinced.

The council voted 7-5 against his notice of motion at a Dunedin City Council meeting today. Cr Sophie Barker abstained.

Cr Radich had pushed for a five-year trial of a reinstated groyne.

Cr Steve Walker was particularly dismissive, saying material supplied by Cr Radich "reads like a school boy's project".

"Before" and "after" pictures had been produced, appearing to show the difference groynes had made in the past, and this reminded Cr Walker of late-night television.

Poles remaining from the historic groyne system at St Clair beach on a recent June day. Photo:...
Poles remaining from the historic groyne system at St Clair beach on a recent June day. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

In February, the council approved a plan that outlined broad approaches for managing the coastline from St Clair to St Kilda.

The vision was to enhance the natural environment, for it to be resilient to coastal hazards and future sea-level rise and for future generations to be provided with access and recreational opportunities.

Cr Walker said the council should avoid ad-hoc decision-making and kneejerk reactions.

Cr Carmen Houlahan said Cr Walker's commentary was "one of the rudest speeches I've ever heard in this chamber".

Cr Radich said reinstatement of the groyne would be a low-cost experiment and the public wanted it to happen.

Deputy mayor Christine Garey was wary of potential effects that ranged from impeding people walking along the beach to affecting the surf break.

Cr Jim O'Malley doubted the experiment could be carried out cheaply, but he supported a trial.

Cr Rachel Elder said experts appeared to be divided and she supported an experimental approach.

"We will find out which experts are right."

Cr Chris Staynes doubted the proposed trial's usefulness in assisting management of the coastline.

"Putting in one groyne will not tell us very much at all."

Cr David Benson-Pope said expert advice had been unequivocal and if councillors overrode this and backed the groyne, this raised questions about their judgement.

The motion: That the council reinstate the St Clair groyne on a five-year trial basis

For (5): Jules Radich, Andrew Whiley, Rachel Elder, Jim O'Malley, Carmen Houlahan.

Against (7): Aaron Hawkins, Steve Walker, Christine Garey, Marie Laufiso, Chris Staynes, David Benson-Pope, Mike Lord.

Abstention (1): Sophie Barker





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