Report on groynes may go private

New Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich in front of the remains of the St Clair groyne which has now...
Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich in front of the remains of the St Clair groyne which has now washed away. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A report about potentially reinstating a groyne at St Clair Beach in Dunedin could be discussed behind closed doors at the Dunedin City Council this month.

Or it may be discussed in the public part of the meeting on December 13, or some of the content could be public and some private.

The council said it was "aiming" to discuss the report in public.

"We appreciate the public interest in this topic and are aiming to discuss the report in public (although we did flag to councillors that legal advice may mean the matter was a non-public item).

"Once we have received the legal advice around consenting options and associated legal considerations we will assess if all, or at least some, of the discussion can be held in public."

New Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich had been a consistent advocate for reinstating a groyne, which he had argued would trap sand and build up the beach.

There had been significant popular support for the project, as well as support from businesses along the Esplanade at St Clair Beach.

Political support was sketchy from the previous council, but the new council voted 11-4 on November 8 to request an urgent report into costs and timeframes of re-establishing a groyne, potentially on a trial basis.

The November 29 council agenda indicated the report would be presented to the non-public section of the December 13 meeting due to legal advice.

Asked about this by the Otago Daily Times, the council signalled it could depend on the content of the legal advice.

It was conscious of the level of public interest in the matter.

St Clair Beach was part of a dynamic coastline and was prone to episodes of erosion, mostly when storms hit in winter.

A protective sea wall there was widely considered to exacerbate erosion.

The beach at St Clair had historically featured lines of wooden poles, or groynes, and Mr Radich had argued they were rendered ineffective when allowed to fall into disrepair.

They had been used as a sand-trapping device, on and off, since early in the 20th century.

The poles had also held appeal for photographers.

The last pole in a line disappeared from view in July this year amid stormy weather.

Some scientists have argued the beach at St Clair was the wrong type of environment for a groyne to be effective.

Coastal management scientist Associate Prof Mike Hilton, of the University of Otago, has said there was a high chance a groyne would be a waste of money.