Tow­ers for WA beaches

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - PETER LAW

TEN semi-per­ma­nent, 5m-tall ob­ser­va­tion tow­ers will be in­stalled at some of WA's most pop­u­lar beaches to spot sharks, rips and swim­mers in trou­ble.

Surf Life Sav­ing WA is also look­ing at ex­pand­ing the use of sur­veil­lance drone pa­trols af­ter eight out of 10 beach­go­ers said they made them feel safer.

The ini­tia­tives come af­ter 28 peo­ple died swim­ming on the WA coast in the 2016-17 sea­son, an in­crease of 65 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year.

The semi-per­ma­nent ob­ser­va­tion tow­ers have been de­signed by SLSWA and will be made lo­cally. It comes af­ter im­ported tow­ers have been tri­alled at Cottes­loe, North Cottes­loe and City Beach since 2014.

A study of all pa­trolled beaches from Esperance to Ger­ald­ton was un­der­taken by SLSWA to se­lect pri­or­ity lo­ca­tions, with the City of Stir­ling al­ready con­sid­er­ing con­tribut­ing to the cost of four tow­ers. One is planned for Brighton Beach and another at North Scar­bor­ough, in ad­di­tion to the per­ma­nent tower be­ing built as part of the Scar­bor­ough beach re­de­vel­op­ment.

A fur­ther two tow­ers would be lo­cated at Trigg, one di­rectly in front of the Trigg Blue Hole and the other cen­trally on Trigg Beach.

The tow­ers will re­place tra­di­tional beach pa­trol shel­ters and of­fer clear 180 de­gree views. There is also the po­ten­tial to mount so­lar pan­els and CCTV cam­eras.

The tow­ers cost $75,000 each, but SLSWA has se­cured a fund­ing from Lot­tery­west to sub­side the cost. It means coun­cils only have to chip-in $10,000 per tower. A SLSWA spokes­woman was un­able to say where all the tow­ers would be lo­cated or when they would be in­stalled.

Re­sults from a State Gov­ern­ment-funded trial of sur­veil­lance drones was de­scribed as “ex­tremely pos­i­tive”, with SLSWA look­ing to ex­pand the pro­gram.

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