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Patrick Goldsmith, Yorke Peninsula Country Times

Members of the Coobowie community are rejoicing after Yorke Peninsula Council unanimously voted not to proceed with a proposed coastal defence structure in the town.

A petition from the Friends of Coobowie Foreshore group, featuring 727 signatures, was presented to elected members before they made their decision to stop investigating the matter at council’s January meeting.

Council received a grant from the Coast Protection Board to design coastal defence structures for Foul Bay, Port Clinton, James Well, Pine Point and Coobowie, and host public consultation workshops in each town during July and August last year.

Many Coobowie locals disapproved of the design which they understood would stretch 12 metres from the front of foreshore properties onto the beach.

Following the public consultation period, which featured strong backlash, submissions were considered by consultant Wavelength Consulting (now Hatch) in conjunction with staff from council and the Coast and Marine Branch of the Department for Environment and Water.

The friends group was adamant the town didn’t need defences for rising sea levels, recruiting marine biologist John Douglas to help its case, and argued a structure of such size would “obliterate” the beach.

Group member Peter Hooper said he felt an overwhelming sense of relief after the decision, having many sleepless nights in the lead up.

“We knew right from the beginning, the information used by the consultants was generic and didn’t apply to Coobowie specifically,” he said. “Our argument will be forever the same, if you want to totally obliterate that beach, then you need to be sure of your data; come here and collect data, and show people there are rising sea levels.

“We thought after our presentation (in December), no one in their right mind could vote for it.”

Mr Hooper offered his thanks to council staff and elected members for hearing the concerns of town residents.

“CEO Andrew Cameron and Mayor Darren Braund have been very good to work with, and we thank them both, in particular for their efforts throughout the process,” he said.

Fellow member Joylene Hooper said the campaign created a new productive group in the town, and new friendships.

“We’re grateful for the support of the community, and to council for being receptive to the argument put forward,” she said.

“It’s been great to see the community get behind this, because Coobowie can sometimes be a lost town; we’re not an Edithburgh and we’re not a Stansbury, and people here tend to do their own thing.

“But this has really united the town and suddenly we know everyone who lives in the houses along the foreshore, we didn’t know everyone like that before this.

“We’ve turned it from being something the community was very worried about, to something which has unified us, and can be cause for positivity going forward.”

The group is set to continue, working in conjunction with the Coobowie Progress Association for the continued betterment of the town.

Council will continue exploring coastal defence structures in Foul Bay, Port Clinton, James Well and Pine Point. 

Yorke Peninsula Country Times 23 January 2024

This article appeared in Yorke Peninsula Country Times, 23 January 2024.

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