I used to be a regular attender of Byron Shire Council’s meetings. About four months ago I stopped going as they were too depressing. With Cr Wanchap’s defection to the pro-developers they now have a majority on Council, despite her strong views expressed at many Greens meetings of her commitment to the Greens. E.g. see her YouTube clip at
But I was encouraged to attend to the last one because of the many issues at stake. I sat in silence for about three quarters of an hour while the Gallery got verbally angrier and angrier and ultimately I too called out. Cllr Rose Wanchap then took off each of her sandals with thick hard, heavy heels, made eye contact with me and threw them with great force. The second one hit the armrest between me and the equally old guy sitting next to me who has a brain tumor.
What goes on at Council is astonishing. When a Civil Engineer explains in detail the nature of sand movements at Belongil, and mentions the request by the State government to do nothing until the Coastal Zone Management Plan is produced one Counsellor dismisses him with ‘I’m tired of all of this. Its been going on for years, just lets vote’. Another says it’s all going to be paid for by the Belongil residents, when in fact they have offered $300,000 out of the projected initial costs of $1.2 million.
In 1988 Council determined that planned retreat was their policy. The State government supported this. All land and houses sold or built at Belongil since 1988 included in terms of the purchase that the land was subject to coastal erosion and that they would have to bear the future costs of their decision buy or build.
I believe compensation is required to those residents, that built before 1988 (about 7 to 9 very modest houses) and who retain ownership and who have not used the homes as holiday lets.
Byron is under attack. With the mega-development of West Byron and more new developments popping up violating local planning guidelines, the ‘Gold Coastification’ of Byron Bay has begun! This may be the final ruin of our world famous surf beaches and lifestyles.
The latest offensive is rock walls at Belongil, to be followed by rock groynes – rock walls that stick out at an angle onto the beach. Then sand pumping is required to replace the sand that will be lost because of the rock structures. And we ratepayers are expected to pay to destroy the beaches we love! Not just as a one-off payment but forever at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
It’s all on Council’s web page: ‘Coastal Hazard Management Study for the Byron Bay Embayment’. It should be noted that the Office of Environment and Heritage looked at the costings and considered that the stated cost of planned retreat (Council’s policy for the last 29 years) was substantially overstated (presumably to make the other options look better.) The OEH offered to do a Cost Benefit Analysis for Council but the offer was refused. We have the right to a proper CBA before our money is spent!
A few days ago, Byron Shire Council voted 5-4 for an IBAS (Interim Beach Access Stabilisation), aka temporary rock wall. This will be constructed at the Manfred Street beach access, Belongil Beach.
This decision was made with NO public consultation, no open tendering for the contract, against common sense, against environmental and engineering advice at local and state levels.
The rock wall is allegedly ‘temporary’ and will cost at least $1.2 million and more: the General Manager has a blank cheque for these works.
The rock wall is only just the beginning! Next come the groynes and sand nourishment. The cost of this will be more than $50 million just to get it started. The proposal is to dredge and pump sand from Tallows Beach (Cosy Corner) across Arakwal National Park to Clarkes Beach.
This will be the beginning of the end for Byron’s famous surf breaks and beautiful beaches.
• Why sacrifice all Byron’s surf breaks for a small part of Belongil Beach?
• Why not wait a few months for the recommendations in the CZMP to come out?
• Why not spend the next year maintaining the sand bags currently in use (approximately $200,000)?
• Why not spend the money saved on fixing our roads and pothole problems?
• Why are the full costs to construct and maintain not presented?
• Why is the matter decided without community consultation?
Not only Byron Bay is affected! Other parts of the Shire are in low-lying areas too. Belongil works set an expensive precedent. We interfere with the processes that create our beaches even though we don’t understand how it all works. Byron Shire’s beaches are the MOST important feature of our Shire. If we destroy our beaches, then we destroy our livelihoods and our all important tourism industry.
SIGN THE PETITION http://www.causes.com/campaigns/91749-protect-byron-bay
JOIN THE MOVEMENT #SaveByronsBeaches http://www.facebook.com/ByronResidentsGroup http://www.positivechangeformarinelife.org/ CONTACT A COUNCILLOR http://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/councillors
SAVE BYRON’S BEACHES!
Rally this Sunday June 7th
Meet at the The Wreck side of Main Beach @ 1pm to march along the beach.
Bring your own signs and make some noise then afterwards come to a fundraiser community event at the Community Centre from 3pm – live music, films, food, speakers, raffle – help raise $$$ for a legal fund to fight this madness.
* We could use some helpers on the day – managing petitions, collecting donations etc. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can lend a hand. Sand bags on Belongil Beach