THE arrival of the Australian Surf Festival in Coffs Harbour is a timely reminder that an artificial reef providing the dual-purpose of protecting the harbour and creating a world-class surf break could be a huge boost for the city as a surfing mecca.
As one of four options being considered by consultants GHD to prevent waves over-topping the Northern Breakwater, the idea was effectively written off by the State Government earlier this year because of its potential cost and complexity.
GHD is due to deliver its report on the various options including raising the height of the breakwater, building a wave deflection barrier and building a submerged berm off the northern edge in the coming months.
Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser supports the idea of an artificial reef but said the problem was one of funding.
"I think we'd all like to see the artificial reef, but at the end of the day you've got to look at what's affordable," Mr Fraser said.
"There is an opportunity to turn that North Wall into a tourist attraction and at the same time fix the over-topping of the waves there. The community has made their comments ... we're up to a final decision.
"I'll accept what the final decision is; anything's better than nothing."
However he was less circumspect about business owners in the area losing their northern views if the height of the wall is raised.
"My honest opinion of the restaurants down there is they should be bulldozed and started again and we need to do something that is attractive," he said.
"I think if they do that you'll find construction there could still take advantage of the view, they are very dated those buildings."
He said raising the height of the breakwater could make the northern section of the harbour even more attractive.