Dredging will be trialled along Adelaide’s northern beaches as part of the state government’s latest attempt to fix sand drift and erosion.

Sand will be taken from between North Haven and Taperoo then relocated south where erosion is more acute.

Attorney-General Kyam Maher said the initial two-month dredging trial stems from an independent scientific review into beach management.

“With nearshore dredging what you’ll see is a dredge off the coast, dredging that sand and floating it down by barge to West Beach,” Mr Maher said.

SA’s Attorney-General said over $20 million has been committed from the upcoming state budget for the two-month trial.(ABC News: Ethan Rix)

“What we have seen in years gone by is big trucks, excavators on our northern beaches, taking sand on the road down to West Beach.”

Trucks are set to remain a feature at West Beach, with sand carting from other sources to continue despite the dredging.

200-thousand cubic metres of quarry sand will be brought in to “re-nourish” West Beach over the next 12 months.

Drift of sand along Adelaide’s suburban coast has been a natural phenomenon for thousands of years due to waves mostly coming from the south-west, pushing sand to beaches further north.

Beach management has been a contentious issue among coastal communities, with plans for a sand pipeline running from Semaphore South to West Beach drawing protests from residents at the northern end of the proposed route.

When Labor won the 2022 state election, it scrapped the former Liberal government’s pipeline plan and launched an independent review of long-term sand management options along Adelaide’s metropolitan coastline.

The attorney-general said the new method of transferring sand “scored the highest” in the review and would cause less disturbance to beachgoers.

He also said dredging would avoid areas with sea grass.

Trucks are regularly seen on Adelaide suburban beaches in the winter months.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

The independent report said building a sand pipeline remains a long-term option to deal with the issue if the dredging proves unviable.

The beach management scheme is set to receive $20.6 million in next month’s state budget.

Kyam Maher has been the responsible minister for the beach management review after Environment Minister and Deputy Premier Susan Close declared a conflict of interest in 2022.

In a statement, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said a dredging operator, authorised by the agency, will be required to submit a management plan for approval before any works are undertaken.

“This [plan] would require mitigation measures to prevent and/or minimise reduction in water quality and impact on sea grass,” the EPA said.

“If the trial was successful, a longer-term program would need to be assessed separately.”

The environment department will monitor the impact of the trial on sea grass and report back any mitigations for future dredging activities along the Adelaide coastline.

Beach ‘greatly eroded’ says West Beach residents

Shadow Treasurer and MP for the suburbs surrounding Henley Beach, Matt Cowdrey, said there are “huge question marks” over the government’s latest plan.

“In particular where they think the sand volumes are to provide mass replenishment at West Beach, there is an illusion to a quantum of sand, but no real detail as to where that’s coming [from],” he said.

“This is simply a trial. That’s not a costed, viable plan by any stretch.

“What we are keen to see is a long-term viable solution on our coastline, not a wish-list but a long-term viable solution,” he said.

“The independent review also recommended a mass nourishment of sand, that is around 550-thousand cubic metres of sand being placed at West Beach [between now and 2030],” Mr Maher said.

West Beach resident John Dundon said there was still “great uncertainty” about the proposed project.

Bernadette Cranwell and John Dundon say asbestos sheets have been resurfacing on Adelaide’s southern beaches like Henley.(ABC News)

“We haven’t got any assurance that we’re going to have a mass reinstatement that’s suitable,” Mr Dundon said.

“At this stage the beach is greatly eroded and needs additional sand.”

Locals say another impact of the ongoing erosion is pieces of broken asbestos panels from long-demolished coastal shacks is resurfacing and washing up on the shoreline at Henley and Henley South.

“[The beach shacks] were obviously buried quite deep, but now they’re coming up quite regularly, this week someone picked up 15 pieces,” local Bernadette Cranwell said.

Henley Beach resident Bernadette Cranwell said she’s seen significant erosion at her local beach in recent years.(Rory McClaren)

A spokesperson for the City of Charles Sturt said it was the council’s priority to keep the community safe.

“We have trained staff and beach patrols who visit the area daily and respond to calls from the community to dispose of asbestos and other hazards safely,” the spokesperson said.

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