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Cosy Corner could be ‘sacrificed’ for Belongil

The state government is supporting a plan to mine sand from Cosy Corner at Tallow Beach to nourish Belongil. Photo: NPWS/John Spencer

The state government is supporting a plan to mine sand from Cosy Corner at Tallow Beach to nourish Belongil. Photo: NPWS/John Spencer

Chris Dobney

A plan to extract sand from Tallow Beach and pump it via national park land onto Clarkes Beach has been damned by a local engineer as ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has identified the so-called ‘sand nourishment program’ as necessary to offset the likely erosion of Belongil Beach as the result of the construction of a rock wall.

A similar scheme at Noosa cost more than $2 million to construct and has annual operating costs of more than $300,000.

A UNSW study has estimated similar construction costs for the Byron project but with higher ongoing costs, estimated at around $.5 million a year.

The OEH is so keen on the plan that it had threatened not to allow the construction of rock walls at Belongil without the sand nourishment scheme being in place.

But former NSW environment minister Rob Stokes overruled the OEH to allow council to go ahead with the rock wall so long as the sand nourishment plan was subsequently implemented.

In a letter to Byron Shire Council on February 20 this year, OEH wrote, ‘Whilst the minister is keen to ensure the sand transfer system remains a key element of the coastal zone management plan’s (CZMP) adaptive management approach, he has listened to resident concerns and would permit the seawall component to be constructed prior to the sand transfer scheme in order to alleviate the threat to the properties.’

Under the plan, Echonetdaily understands there would be deep well dug in Tallow Beach into which sand would wash, then be sucked out as a wet slurry and lifted by pumping a short distance to a nearby main pump house.

From there it would be pumped in a pipeline, probably in road reserves, to a discharge point upstream of the areas of depletion.

Tweed experience mixed

But retired civil engineer Andy Winton-Brown, who worked on a similar sand nourishment project on the Tweed coast says that project has had mixed results.

‘It’s been a great success at the northern end beaches [such as Kirra] but it’s denuded the northern end of Fingal,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘My personal view is that Tallow Beach is a popular surfing beach. So if you had a system there withdrawing sand at Cosy Corner it would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

‘We’re taking from the many to give to a few,’ he added, referring to the small number of landowners who live behind beaches that would be replenished by the sand.

Mr Winton-Brown said that when his family first moved to the area 30 years ago ‘we used to go surfing at Cosy Corner. If you can imagine it being a sand mining exercise, it will ruin a lovely surfing beach.’

He added that while the sand nourishment program was ‘technically possible engineering-wise’ he questioned whether the community would want to ‘denude sand from one beach so some people can save their houses from being washed away when the long term trajectory is that those houses won’t be here forever.’

‘The 1978 long-term report said that [those properties] will all go eventually so there ought to be a planned retreat. So if you’ve built houses in the wrong place maybe you should pull them down eventually rather than pouring money into them to try and keep them up.

‘Missing’ CZMP

Mr Winton-Brown also questioned why a coastal zone management plan (CZMP) that was completed in 2010 and submitted to the state government for approval was later withdrawn by Byron Shire Council’s then general manager Graeme Faulkner.

‘If you look at the 2010 draft plan planned retreat was the way to go. It was submitted to the government for ratification and then the general manager of the day withdrew it and ever since then we’ve moved away from planned retreat. Someone has to ask why is it so?’ he said.

 


14 responses to “Cosy Corner could be ‘sacrificed’ for Belongil”

  1. Christina says:

    NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Tim Shanasy says:

    This is utterly appalling.

    I thought this article was an April Fool’s joke . .
    Sadly, it seems not.

    Let nature be.

    Why do some people think it’s fine to further stuff the planet up.
    Planned retreat is the only sane approach.

    Any investment comes with risk.
    If your land gets gobbled up by nature, then it’s time to move on.
    When you lose money on the stock market, no-one expects to be bailed out.

    Belongil folk have had a great investment, until now.
    Accept it as just a good investment gone bad.

    I sure don’t want a cent of our Byron Shire’s funds wasted on this totally ridiculous no-issue.

  3. tom tabart says:

    We councillors at the time of the withdrawal were told by staff it was an insurance matter in that te CZMP somehow jeapodised the policy which covered us in the multiple actions from the Belongil residents. I didn’t believe a word of it and the detailed explanation was unable to be extracted from the staff. The new Minister who took up the issue after the election also could not see why it was withdrawn. As if usually the case too many councillors did not really understand the matter or had other agendas and would never question staff some are still on council.

  4. Pamela Rose says:

    You’ve got to be joking. Nobody in their right mind would want a natural beach denuded, so that developers on Belongil Beach can make more profit. Building on a sandspit at a time when our oceans will inevitably rise
    and expecting the ratepayers to shore it up, is ridiculous.

  5. john Vaughan says:

    Never let facts get in the way of a GREEN political campaign.
    Firstly this Council and every Green dominated Council before including Mayor Barhams have voted to protect the Byron Town centre and to retain and rebuild the Jonson St structure. A structure that sits 90 metres seaward of past beach positions.
    This is what the sand nourishment is required to address, the impact of the Jonson St structure on Belongil Beach.
    Winton Brown said “The 1978 long-term report said that [those properties] will all go eventually so there ought to be a planned retreat. So if you’ve built houses in the wrong place maybe you should pull them down eventually rather than pouring money into them to try and keep them up.”
    This is just BS; read the 1978 report Mr Brown, it made five alternative recommendations none of which was “Retreat” as the Greens have come to understand it.
    One recommendation was village “relocation” which was not recommended or adopted for Belongil or the Byron Bay town centre. Council adopted in 1983 the 1978 reports recommendation for a series of groynes, which again was recommended by experts to Council in 1989. The Jonson St structure was to be the first in a planned series of groynes.
    The whole premise of current planning policy has its roots in a false understanding of coastal processes, which was base on massive deficits in the sand supply naturally coming around the Cape.
    We know that experts in the field in fact no longer believed this to be the case. The sand deficit is now understood to be < 10% of earlier understanding.
    Belongil residents don’t want a sand by-pass to manage the impact of the Jonson St structure. Although it may be imposed by an ill informed State agency to manage the Jonson St impact.
    We believe the WBM Oceanics recommendations that were before Council in 2002 for adoption in the CZMP process. The recommendation was for an end control structure adjacent Belongil Creek and would have been more than adequate to address the down-stream impact of the Jonson St structure. Alas Mayor Barham used her casting vote to overturn WBM’s recommended path.
    “Mr Brown also questioned why a coastal zone management plan (CZMP) that was completed in 2010 and submitted to the state government for approval was later withdrawn by Byron Shire Council’s then general manager Graeme Faulkner.”
    That’s easy to answer, the plan (CZMP) was flawed and subject to legal challenge. The proposed Draft CZMP was an inequitable plan that in law proposed to commit a tort by removing the current Belongil rock protection works and placing existing residential properties (about 150) in danger from a coastal impacts now recognized as largely caused by the Council’s construction of the Jonson St structure.
    Belongil has rock walls protecting the village, rock walls that have mostly been in place since the mid 1970s. The rock walls were all fully funded by residents and industry and built with the blessing of the Councils of the day. Forty years later, without any sand by-pass from Tallow Beach, Belongil currently has a beautiful wide sandy beach. Gosh! A wide sandy beach and rock walls surely an oxymora.

  6. Paul says:

    Seriously? This seems absurd.

    Cosy Corner is unique and unspoilt.

    Don’t wreck it.

  7. Deborah Tinker says:

    My Grandfather who died in 1970 had a saying ” If you interfere with nature, nature will surely interfere with you”
    Thank You Bob Morgan

  8. Paul McDiarmid says:

    Over my dead body. Seriously. They will be taking my life before they take a grain of sand off this beach. Paul

  9. Trish says:

    This is total bullshit!

  10. Paul O'Brien says:

    This is such a stupid idea for so many reasons:
    1. Tallow Beach is in the Marine Park
    2. Taking sand from Cosy Corner will mean a drain on the sand south of Tallow Beach to fill the deficit. This is the effect the Tweed River sand bypass has had on Fingal and possibly even further south at Kingscliff. There are many more beachfront houses at Suffolk Park that will feel this effect than there will ever be saved at Belongil.
    3. Cosy Corner is a world famous surf area and integral to the Byron Bay surfing community
    4. Cost

    If significant money was spent on dune protection and sand capture and replenishment works on the crown land between main beach car park/ groin and Kendell st, this whole fiasco may be much less of a problem. This area is currently an eroded defacto campsite with no dune protection works. Naturally, dunes in this this area are the sand reserve for Belongil as sand movement is south to north. I believe this land is state government owned and therefore not under council management.

  11. m gardner says:

    I am curious to know exactly the references cited and the experts quoted for the claim made above:
    “The whole premise of current planning policy has its roots in a false understanding of coastal processes, which was base on massive deficits in the sand supply naturally coming around the Cape.
    We know that experts in the field in fact no longer believed this to be the case. The sand deficit is now understood to be < 10% of earlier understanding."

  12. Christina says:

    The name ‘John Vaughan’ seems to ring a bell. Would this be the same ‘John Vaughan’ who owns property at Belongil Beach, and who has been spearheading the attack against council (and its ratepayers) for decades to protect his land from erosion? Time to sell up and move John. The rest of us are totally over you.

  13. Victoria R says:

    I’m with you Christina, time to pack your bags John, you’ve already cost us ratepayers way too much, not to mention wasting council’s time and resources……oh, and maybe you should pack up your house as well!

  14. Matthew Sansom says:

    Can you imagine the community of the Byron shire letting this go ahead??? NO WAY! Seriously Byron Councillors must have there heads buried in the sand if they think this is a solution.

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