With the tsunami in Indonesia fresh in mind, concerns were raised about the vulnerability of Cape Town to sea-level rise.
This is because the City’s coastline has been altered through developments, but this is further compounded by its vulnerability to coastal erosion and storm surges.

Mayoral committee member for urban development Brett Herron said he was aware of the escalating coastal risks associated with climate change and the impact that this was likely to have on Cape Town.

“Much of Cape Town’s coastline has been altered through development and, as such, Cape Town is vulnerable to sea-level rise. Furthermore, vulnerability to coastal erosion and storm surge along our coastline is not uniform and therefore solutions and approaches will be site-specific,” he said.

Herron said a climate change and sea-level rise risk assessment had been done; they formalised the City’s integrated coastal management policy with an emphasis on coastal climate change adaptation and resilience.

In July, the City temporarily closed off two slipways that provide access to Milnerton beach after a storm surge that caused severe erosion to the coastal infrastructure.

The Milnerton Lifesaving Club boat access ramp, the service access ramp and the promenade were severely affected.

Cope councillor Farouk Cassiem said beaches at Big Bay, Milnerton and False Bay were at the forefront of erosion caused by climate change.

Cassiem is also a member of the City’s Sustainability and Resilience Committee.

“We have seen serious erosion In Monwabisi Beach and Strandfontein. The same is happening in Big Bay. Hard engineering will only exacerbate the situation. The walkway has been pulled back 30m at Big Bay. What will happen next is anybody’s guess,” Cassiem said.

He said the storm event that occurred along Milnerton beach in July was shocking and almost all the sand vanished as a result of the surge.

Cassiem said many of the world’s best beaches were being washed away regardless of the high sea walls that were designed and built there to contain storm surges.

“We have all seen storms that are becoming fiercer and more frequent. Wide, sandy beaches are disappearing. This is mainly because of developments very close to the shore in all cities, towns and coastal resorts,” he said.