POSSIBLE: Could Cotton Tree end up with its own rock wall like Mooloolaba Spit?
POSSIBLE: Could Cotton Tree end up with its own rock wall like Mooloolaba Spit? Che Chapman

Proposed rock wall to be hot topic at first council meeting

THE first Sunshine Coast Council meeting of 2017 will kick-off in controversy today as the future of a possible rock wall at Cotton Tree is determined.

Council officers have recommended approval to replace the existing sandbag groyne with rocks, while also investigating further the possibility of a 200m rock wall being built off Cotton Tree.

The proposal has been met with plenty of criticism and concern from the community who fear the rock wall would wreak havoc with the Maroochy River mouth and create problems for beaches north of the river by interrupting the flow of sand.

Division 8 Councillor Jason O'Pray is in favour of simply replacing the existing the sandbags with other soft infrastructure rather than having a hard rock wall introduced.

Former Maroochy Shire Councillor and Sunshine Coast Environment Council life member Jim Cash has been among those vocal in their opposition to the plans.

He said history showed the mouth of the Maroochy River had rotated north and south of Pincushion Island over decades and human intervention would only cause harm to the natural environment.

Mudjimba Residents' Association president John Low feared the rock wall could affect fish habitat in the river mouth, citing the example of the Tweed River which he said had seen a decline in bream populations when rock walls were introduced.

Council officers had recommended the replacement of the sandbags citing economic reasons, arguing the hard infrastructure would deliver savings over 50 years as maintenance and replacement costs were higher with sandbags, based on an assessment undertaken by the council's consultants.

Mr Cash said the modelling was flawed as it assumed the river mouth would stay south of Pincushion Island for the next half a century.

He said modelling done in 2003 showed the sandbag groynes were allowing sand to flow in and help push the river mouth back to the north of Pincushion Island.

Horizon Festival of Arts and Culture.
Horizon Festival of Arts and Culture.

The rock wall will dominate the discussions, while the council will also tackle planning matters at Birtinya and also look set to commit to funding for the Horizon Arts and Culture Festival for the next three years.