A landslide that destroyed two homes in southern Western Australia continues to cause problems, and a solution is unlikely to be found this year.
- A solution to the Albany landslide disaster could be over a year away
- Mayor Dennis Wellington says it’s the worst problem he’s faced in local government
- Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan says it will cost millions of dollars to solve
The ground beneath properties in the Albany suburb of Mira Mar began rolling down the hill more than a year ago, destroying two homes and threatening three others.
Since then, multiple geotechnical surveys and months of earthworks have been carried out to determine the cause and stop the flow of tons of mud, rocks and debris.
Meanwhile, ground movement issues continue to occur with every heavy rain.
Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington, who has lived in Albany since 1949 and served in local government since 2001, said it was the most difficult issue he had ever faced.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen. It’s just not going to go away and it’s not going to be an easy fix,” Mr Wellington said.
Always looking for the “final solution”
He said that despite numerous inquiries, the consultants still did not know how to proceed.
“I don’t think the consultants know what the final solution is, and that’s the problem.
“It was originally thought that removing a lot of the floor would alleviate the problem, but what it did in the first place was increase the speed of movement.”
Albany’s winter is notoriously wet, which presents major problems for planning and implementing a solution.
Mr Wellington said the timetable had exploded and a solution was not expected before the end of 2024.
“The problem we have is that you can’t put the solution in place while it’s raining, so you have to wait until winter is over,” he said.
“We don’t think a solution will be found until it’s too late to complete it next summer, so it could be the following year before it’s completed.”
He said the land was unlikely to be suitable for housing again.
“My personal belief is that the blocks of land where the houses have been washed away will eventually become a kind of reserve, like a garden with retaining walls placed across it to secure the whole hill.
“I don’t think there will ever be any houses built there again.”
“Grand plan” for the site to cost millions
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan worked with the city to find a solution.
Ms MacTiernan said funding was also an issue, with the cost estimated in the millions.
“We have funds to do short-term repair work, but then there is the question of the grand plan that we plan to put into operation,” she said.
“But then we have to think about how many millions of dollars [a solution will cost] …and we certainly know it’s going to be in the millions, so what’s the best outcome for everyone involved given the amount of money that would be needed to keep this going.