Placing 6.5 million cubic meters of sand from the Thyspunt excavation site onto St Francis Bay’s beach has been proposed as a solution to protect St Francis Bay’s homes from the rough seas.
And Nevil Hulett, son of Leighton Hulett, who founded St Francis Bay 60 years ago, has thrown his weight behind the latest attempt to save the beach and spit dune. He believes replenishing the beach this way will restore St Francis Bay’s beach to its former glory as one of the best beaches in South Africa.
“They say that the nuclear power station at Thyspunt is inevitable,” Hulett says. “As per a ‘stashed’ 2010 report by PRDW Consulting Port and Coastal Engineers, the construction of Thyspunt will have 6.5 million cubic metres of sand to dispose of which will cost them tens of millions!”
Hulett revealed it was imperative for Kouga authorities to approach the South African provincial and governmental authorities to ensure as soon as possible:
* the access roads built to Thyspunt are designed to handle the road transport of 6.5 million cubic metres of sand;
* the area for the rock groin at the mouth of the Kromme River and the placement of 6.5 million cubic meters of sand on the beach is started;
* The design of a rock groin at the river mouth is started as soon as possible;
* An area to remove the existing longshore rock revetments is started to use in phase 2 of the groin construction – once the beach is retained by the first phase of the rock groin at the Kromme River mouth and is advanced by the depositing of the 6.5 million cubic metres of sand.
Hulett also says other advantages of thus solution for the beach are that it will:
* Be the solution to the St Francis Bay spit problem where the sea is imminently going to break into the St Francis Bay Marina and cause catastrophic siltation, loss of property and loss of tidal circulation to the Marina;
* Be the solution to the St Francis Bay problem of erosion of its beach, endangering beach front properties and necessitating the erection of emergency longshore rock revetments that only accelerate the destruction of the beach.
* Be the solution to the negative recreational influence of having to access the beach over high longshore rock revetments and where the existing revetments are accelerating the erosion of the beach to a situation where in 10 years’ time the beach will have largely been “just working on your retirement package”.
* Result in substantial upgrading of St Francis Bay’s disintegrating internal roads to handle the road transport of the 6.5 million cubic metres of sand to the beach and the access for the construction of the Kromme River mouth groin.
Commenting, Greg Christy of the South African Squid Management Industry Association, says, firstly he does not think that the nuclear power station is inevitable. “We will still fight this with all means to the end.”
Regarding the beach issue, Christy says that having these trucks lumbering through town into our residential area would inconvenience everybody and chase more tourists away than our lack of beach on the high tide.
“Secondly – from a purely squid industry perspective we do not want the sand dumped at sea but more importantly we don’t want the power station for numerous other reasons. Thirdly – I am sure the EIA report has addressed the pumping of the sand issue but it was not an option for Eco reasons. Most of the sand will probably be rubble and sludge and not beach sand .”
But initiating the steps outlined, above is incredibly urgent for Kouga accirding to Hulett, “because if we miss this opportunity it is unlikely that the money will become available in our lifetime. “Missing this opportunity he points out could relegate St Francis Bay as a failed beachfront resort, resulting in the future loss of R-billions in property value and the loss of thousands of jobs as a result of the loss of tourist income.
“Please let future generations not accuse us of missing this opportunity of saving Kouga’s future,” Hulett urges. “Let’s get the Kouga municipality, the Riparian Association and the Ratepayers Association on board as soon as possible!” he adds.
Nevil’s plans come while there is a current impasse or deadlock on the beach – whereby home owners or any local authority cannot currently repair or bolster any part of the beach following transgressions of environmental laws by some home owners.
Commenting on the impasse,Hilton Thorpe says those who broke the laws have been fined or issued with compliance notices and warnings of Draconian fines, which the St Francis Chronicle has reliably been told amount to ‘millions of Rands’ by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEAT). This follows attempts by homeowners and hired contractors to take steps to protect their homes falling into the sea.
Currently home owners either have to sit and do nothing while the beach erodes the sand under their beachfront homes or face huge fines – a Catch 22 situation.
Thorpe maintains that DEAT does not appear to have the capacity to deal with the multitude of applications in terms of the Act, “and it takes far too long, and is prohibitively expensive, to get a decision.Some contractors, who need to get on with the job, tend to cut corners and just go ahead,” Thorpe says. “DEAT is now catching up on this and hence the fines.
“While this is being resolved, everything has to stop. This is particularly serious in a situation like the beach and revetments.
“We are caught in the middle, and the threat from the sea is greatly increased because revetments have been demolished with a view to repair, but have now been left half-complete.”
Asked to comment Kouga Municipality told St Francis Chronicle: “Basically, neither the municipality nor property owners are allowed to do anything until further consultation and instruction from the DEAT. There was an ROD which ‘Okayed’ the use of rock revetments but there were conditions attached. Some of the property owners allegedly failed to comply with the conditions, hence the fines.
“We will let residents know the way forward as soon as we have received clarity from the Department,”the municipal statement said.
Response to Nevil’s proposal by Hilton Thrope:
Nevil assumes that Thyspunt is going ahead, and he may be right. If this were to happen, and the contractor could be persuaded to place sand on the beach at St Francis Bay, this would obviously be a huge bonus. However, I would differ with Nevil on two points. One is the volume of sand which he would be happy to accept, and the other is the method of transport. There is also the question as to whether the sand is of suitable quality.
In excess of 6 million cubic metres is a vast amount of sand. Worley Parsons, in their study of the beach in 2013, recommended beach re-nourishment to the tune of 900,000 cubic metres. This would have added an additional 40 metres to the width of the beach. The volume proposed from Thyspunt is about 7 times that amount, which would lead to a beach some 300 metres wide! To put it mildly, this is surplus to requirements. What the overall environmental impact would be is anyone’s guess. An amount of 1 – 1.5 million, but not much more. to restore the beach to its former glory, would be very welcome.
If the amount involved was 6.5 million cubes, as Nevil suggests, this would require 1.1 million return trips in 6 cubic metre trucks. The route is not specified, but it would presumably be along the proposed new road from Thyspunt to Sea Vista, and from there down Tarragona & Harbour Roads to the sea. This would be the most direct and simplest route, but would have a devastating impact on Sea Vista, possibly 24 hours a day. At that point Tarragona is a busy residential, industrial and arterial road, on which numerous young children can always be seen playing. Residents on that part of St Francis Drive and Harbour Road would also not be too happy. Even at 1 million cubes, it would require about 170 thousand trips. This would compare with the volumes of construction vehicles required to build the plant, and is really not acceptable.
A much less disruptive, and probably cheaper method would be to pump the sand along the old Thysbaai Headland By-pass Dune Field, and from there to Harbour Road and the sea. The sea would do the rest, as it used to do prior to the stabilisation of Santareme.
To those opposed to Thyspunt as a site, this would be little comfort, but it would at least be a small compensation for the phenomenal social disruption which will come about if Thyspunt goes ahead.
Nevil’s response to Thorpe:
In thanking Thorpe for his inputm Hulett says: “Preliminary input from the experts seems to agree with your opinion about pumping being the best solution. First prize would be to pump it into the sea just below the port which would recreate the sand flows from Santareme when it was all dune field and no houses. This would reinstate Bruce’s Geauties to its 60’s “Endless Summer” status where it was considered the most perfect wave in the world due to the continuous sand bottom fed by the moving Santareme dune field.
“In essence we would be restoring the sand lost from the Thuyspunt and Oyster Bay bypass dune fields over the last 200 years due the influence of man!”