Surfing beach choice now a 'political issue'

SURF Life Saving Australia executives are expected to meet Coffs Harbour City Council representatives next week to discuss the change to the beach proposed for the 2010-2012 National Surf Life Saving Championships, to be held in Coffs Harbour.

Coffs Harbour City Council last week selected Boambee Beach for the event, reversing its decision two weeks earlier to retain Park Beach as the site, in spite of concerns about the rapid erosion of sand from Park Beach.

Council has estimated the costs of developing infrastructure at Boambee as $17.5 million.

"We don't have all the details, but hopefully we will be having a meeting early next week," said the chief executive officer of Surf Life Saving Australia, Brett Williamson.

Mr Williamson said yesterday that SLSA had been aware there was a proposal coming to them to change the beach to be used for the titles, but the push for the change had not come from the SLSA.

He said while he was certainly aware of Park Beach and had known about its erosion problems, he had not personally seen Boambee Beach, although he had seen aerial photographs.

Mr Williamson said he had also been made aware that the choice of beach had become a 'political issue' in Coffs Harbour.

Meanwhile the council's selection of Boambee Beach has drawn fire from the Jetty Action Group and The Greens.

Greens Upper House MP Ian Cohen said the proposed developments would involve clearing more than 30ha of mature dune vegetation, risking exposing the area to massive erosion.

A keen surfer himself, Mr Cohen said the championships should be held at a beach that had existing infrastructure.

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