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Tuesday Oct 02, 2012

Durban promenade must move, say experts

Coastal experts warn that the recent demolition and "reshaping" of some of Durban's coastal dunes would become a regular event unless the City moved the promenade further away from the sea.

Commenting on the R400 000 operation to bulldoze sand dunes next to Addington Beach, the Coastwatch group said Durban's central beaches had been reclaimed artificially from the sea and the city's promenade should be pulled 20m to 50m back to avoid more storm damage.

Last week, the eThekwini strategic projects unit confirmed that it was demolishing and re-vegetating about 400m of newly established coastal dunes north of Bell Street to make them lower.

The unit laid part of the blame on a sister municipal department for placing an extra 500m 3 of sand on the beach just before the World Cup, saying that this extra volume had changed the profile of the beach and interfered with the original design of the beachfront revamp.

However, the Coastwatch group of experts said yesterday that the city had been advised in 2009 that the promenade should be moved 20m-50m back and to a higher level.

"In effect it was recognised that this portion of coastline is reclaimed land and that the promenade lay across the beach, not the dune."

Coastwatch said this recommendation was ignored, along with warnings that the new dune would require "extremely high levels of management".

"It appears that many of the issues identified in the EIA process for the promenade have come to pass, and that despite a sound knowledge base within the city of coastal planning best practice, the implementation of sound coastal management failed to materialise," said Coastwatch.

Asked what the city should do to avoid regular "reshaping" and re-vegetation of these dunes, coastal erosion expert Alan Smith said the city would have to retreat from the sea to avoid storm damage.

"A phased retreat plan with time lines should be drawn up and implemented."

The Mercury

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