convener, Foreshore Protection Group
Byron Shire councillor Duncan Dey’s recent letter should remember that Byron Council resolved to establish a three-metre foreshore buffer zone and 10-metre building setback along all waterways in 2000 and 2002, in line with local government caravan park regulations.
This followed a very public, transparent, and ongoing campaign to reinstate foreshore access in Terrace Park initiated by Brunswick Heads Progress Association (BHPA) and maintained by Foreshore Protection Group (FPG) throughout the past decade.
All foreshore residents in Terrace Park have been well aware of Council’s intention to relocate these non-compliant sites off the eroding, degraded riverbank and many have vacated through natural attrition.
Council’s new licence agreement ensures all 15 remaining tenants will be relocated within the park and all costs associated with the relocation will be met by North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP).
Surely this is a fair and reasonable outcome for park residents who are entitled to 90 days’ notice. Private renters are given just 60 days to vacate. Cr Dey’s suggestion that park residents be given an additional 5–10 years’ notice is without precedent and merely panders to the unwarranted hysteria.
Remediation works along the foreshore are long overdue and residents have every opportunity to work with park management to negotiate preferred alternative sites in the new plans of management.
Council would better serve all park residents by insisting 30 per cent of sites in each caravan park are retained for permanent residency as permitted in legislation, instead of allowing the ongoing reduction in permanent sites as has occurred under NCHP management.
Cr Dey has also sought to reduce the additional 10m of Terrace road reserve retained for road improvements, car parking and a bike path in the proposed new licence. The safety of school children and amenity of local residents is clearly not a major priority for our new council. Unfortunately neither NCHP nor Department of Lands (DoL) has ever been able to provide any properly surveyed maps of the caravan parks!
Council’s proposed licence agreement also retains Ferry foreshore and boat ramp for public use and excludes Riverside Crescent from the operational area of the caravan park. DoL has acquired the Old Pacific Highway site and the 2010 plan of management included an additional 12,000 square metres of public land within Ferry Caravan Park, more than adequately compensating for the loss of 24 foreshore sites.
Cr Dey’s motion excludes the new additions for no apparent reason, allows camping on the foreshore during peak holiday periods, when it is most needed as open recreational space, and ‘yields up’ Riverside Crescent, which NCHP proposes closing with boom gates, restricting public access to the Ferry boat ramp and foreshore. A no-win outcome for both NCHP and the community.
Closing the roadway is not a panacea to non-compliance issues and councillors should be aware NCHP installed the non-compliant cabin precinct in Ferry Reserve with BSC & DoL approval during Cr Dey’s previous term on council.
For the record, NCHP was appointed to manage Byron Shire’s Crown reserve caravan parks by DoL in 2000. North Coast Accommodation Trust was appointed park administrators by DoL in 2007, when BSC Reserve Trust proved less cooperative.
No tender process was implemented and Council has had little control over park management, who clearly receive their orders directly from DoL.
The avarice and ruthlessness of DoL cannot be underestimated. Over $3.8 million of road reserve lands has been forcibly acquired and Council has received no compensation, neither any revenue from the caravan parks since the NCAT takeover.
It is imperative some small morsels of foreshore lands are retained for public use outside the operational area of the caravan parks, as reports suggest they may soon be privatised or sold off.
Cr Dey’s attempts to ‘clarify’ caravan park boundaries have unfortunately undermined Council’s proposed licence conditions and the community’s preferred outcomes. We urge all concerned residents to respectfully request Council reconsider their decision before this highly prized public land is lost forever.