The Dart group began removing slabs of beach rock from the waters off Seven Mile Beach on Wednesday at the site of a planned five-star resort.
A silt screen was put in place and an excavator rolled into the shallows to scrape out samples of the rock as part of a trial to determine the feasibility of a much larger excavation.
Ultimately, Dart wants to remove rock spanning a half-kilometer of coastline in front of the site to create a sandy beach entry for guests of the planned hotel.
A coastal engineer and marine biologist hired by the developer were on site as well as officials from the Department of Environment for the trial excavation, which was approved following a Coastal Works Application earlier this year.
“It’s remarkable how thin the layers of beach rock actually are,” said Ken Hydes, vice president of special projects for Dart Development. “Only a few of the pieces we observed were more than a foot thick. The planning and professionalism of the crew and the comprehensive silt screening system ensured that the areas surrounding the trial area were minimally affected.”
The objectives of the trial are to remove samples for a geologist to study and confirm as beach rock and to inform on the development of a removal methodology that is safe and least impactful on the marine and beach environment, Dart said in a press release.
Jackie Doak, president of Dart Real Estate said, “Removing beachrock is not an all-or-nothing proposition for us, and this trial will provide useful data that will help inform our next steps in planning development in the area designed to balance environmental management and economic growth.”
Dart said in its statement that the planned resort and residences would represent $600 million in economic impact during construction, add room stock and play a major role in ensuring a pipeline of employment for the construction industry and growth.
The removal of the beach rock has caused some controversy, however, and is opposed by the Department of Environment, which warns it could cause erosion on Seven Mile Beach.