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Residents fear 'very loved' pine trees could make way for rebuilt seawall

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Sunshine Coast Council cannot guarantee that Norfolk pines won’t be removed during foreshore works at Caloundra.

Locals have expressed fears that several of the trees could make way for a rebuilt seawall and new-look surrounds at Moffat Beach.

Their concerns were exacerbated when a pandanus was recently felled without community consultation.

A council spokesperson said a better seawall was needed to protect the region and residents will get to have their say on “what they value” in the area.

However, they did not rule out removing the pines.

Local Gary Ryan, who was among those to attend a recent community meeting with council representatives, said seawall reconstruction works “should not proceed without consultation and consideration by the users of the parklands and local businesses owners”.

“Of most concern is the probable loss of the very large, very mature, very loved Norfolk pine trees in the park, if any additional land area is required for the reconstruction works,” he said.

Mr Ryan said he had heard that people were willing to chain themselves to the trees to prevent their removal.

He also said that two pine trees had previously been cut down for temporary repairs to one section of the wall.

Towering Norfolk pines at the middle section of Moffat Beach.

“Preservation of Norfolk pines here would not appear to be of high governmental importance,” he said.

The council spokesperson said a rebuilt seawall was required.

“The project is crucial for protecting the community parklands, paths, roads and facilities from the impacts of future climate change while also providing access to the beach,” they said.

“Both the western and middle sections of the seawall were damaged by severe weather and rainfall in 2022 and again in early 2024, and rebuilding is scheduled for mid-2025.”

Another local, Emma Johnson, said the possible removal of pines was “a huge concern for the community” and there was “poor communication regarding the seawall plans”.

Resident John Stark took notes at the meeting, which was attended by about 200 locals. He said they were given some bad news.

“Councillor Terry Landsberg advised that current plans for the midsection seawall requires removal of the Norfolk pines,” he said.

“Terry explained that the construction of the rock wall falls under state government coastal management design rules, which dictate distance from the ocean and slope of the wall. To comply with these rules the council proposes the removal of the trees.

“Cr Landsberg noted that at some future point, seawall construction would also be undertaken at the northern end of the Moffat Beach (but) with the goal of protecting the Norfolk pines at that end of the beach.”

The western section of Moffat Beach.

Mr Stark said attendees urged council to seek alternative designs and strategies, and that alternatives to rock be considered.

He said there was “considerable discussion” about relocation plans for the boat ramp.

“There was general consensus that the ramp should remain located where it is and that slope requirements can be accommodated by moving the start point of the ramp south.”

Mr Stark said many residents were disgruntled at the meeting.

“Those who attended expressed a high level of frustration and mistrust of the council,” he said.

“At the same time, the majority acknowledged that Terry Landsberg strongly supported the protection of the Norfolk pines and the reopening of the existing boat ramp.”

The boat ramp at Moffat Beach.

They called for a town hall meeting with council staff, mayor Rosanna Natoli and state MP Jason Hunt by the end of the month.

Cr Landsberg told Sunshine Coast News the foreshore was “a popular topic” and he would request another meeting with council staff, but he was otherwise tight-lipped.

The state government has committed $1.7 million for the western section and council has committed $2.85 million for the middle section.

But the council spokesperson said project specifics were not yet known.

“The final cost and design options for the seawall are being progressed and an independent consultant will soon be engaged for a full geotechnical investigation and coastal modelling,” they said.

The western section of Moffat Beach.

“This will help create a seawall design that’s strong enough to withstand future climate events and meet Queensland Government requirements. We expect to complete this investigation and design stage by the end of 2024.”

Sunshine Coast News asked council how many trees, including pines, have been impacted, and how many will be impacted, by works.

A direct response was not provided.

But the spokesperson said locals will have their say on a foreshore area.

“The community will have a chance to give their thoughts on the plants and other landscaping elements behind the seawall,” they said.

“While the seawall’s design and size will be required to meet design and construction standards, manage coastal erosion, adhere to state requirements and be safe for the public, we will be seeking community input into what they value about the surrounding area to help us with our planning.”

They said the recent removal of a pandanus tree was done “for public safety” and there were plans to plant another one.

“Prolonged wet weather conditions caused a large portion of the tree to collapse,” they said, before explaining why locals weren’t informed.

The pandanus before it was removed.

“Due to the public safety risks, community consultation and notification was not possible prior to its removal.”

Meanwhile, the Moffat Beach Place Plan will take place later this year.

“The plan will allow for a coordinated approach to the design and management of treasured street and park areas,” the spokesperson said.

“It will focus on the commercial and adjacent recreation areas of Eleanor Shipley Park and Moffat Beach Park.”

The community will be asked to provide feedback.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

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