Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson says a legal bill for ratepayers of more than $100,000 incurred by council fighting an injunction to stop the controversial rock wall at Belongil represents the ‘cost of democracy’.
Environmental group Positive Change for Marine Life this week withdrew its bid in the NSW Land and Environment Court to halt the Belongil interim access stabilisation works being undertaken by Byron Shire Council, after failing to convince the court to grant an interim injunction.
Cr Richardson told media that ‘if you believe in people’s rights to seek justice in a court, then you’ve got to take the negative along with that, which in this case is pretty rich legal bill for a couple of months’ work, so the only people who benefit is the lawyers’.
Council’s legal services coordinator, Ralph James, welcomed the outcome, saying construction works would continue as planned.
‘While we are pleased that the matter is not going to proceed before the court, unfortunately council has incurred significant legal costs of well over $100,000 through defending a case that council successfully argued had little merit,’ Mr James said.
‘Unfortunately these costs will be borne by our ratepayers; funds that could have otherwise gone towards much needed infrastructure upgrades such as road maintenance. It’s disappointing.’
Last month, the marine-life group lodged the legal challenge to try and stop the works going ahead without an environment impact statement.