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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Byron considers beach rock walls

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Byron Shire Council will today hold an extraordinary meeting to consider using rock walls as interim protection works at Manfred, Border and Don streets in Byron Bay to replace ageing geobag walls.

During recent storms, the geobag retaining walls constructed in 2001 took a beating and Council has been advised they are beginning to reach the end of their natural life.

At the same time, the council has been offered free supplies of rock by the state government from earthworks associated with the construction of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale stretch of the Pacific Highway.

A council resolution in mid March asked staff to report on the state of the geobag walls at public beach accesses points and the viability of replacing them with rock walls.

Byron mayor Simon Richardson said that the report advises that any rock protection works would only be an interim measure until a long term coastal zone management plan was adopted.

The geobags currently in place at the public beach accesses were put in place at the end of 2001.

According to the report, they were only ever intended as an interim short term measure, but have been in place for over 10 years. As a result, the geobags are ageing and currently have high maintenance requirements.

Cr Richardson said if Council resolved to undertake the works, they would be determined under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 and would require a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) once the designs were completed.

The NSW Coastal Panel would have to be consulted before any final decision is made.

Cr Richardson said the time to complete the design and approval process at this stage is unknown but could be lengthy.

‘The works will be undertaken within Council’s competing demands for other works throughout the shire.

‘Funding for capital and maintenance costs for the proposed works will be sourced from state departments and private landholders. If the costs of the works cannot be funded from the former sources or from current Council budgets, the matter will be referred to Council for further consideration,’ he said.

The council report also notes that any decision to use rock as an interim measure will not restrict nor bind Council in preparing its long term coastal management strategies.

‘Private landowners are also still encouraged to lodge applications for their own works and should not delay their own applications pending the outcomes of Council’s investigations into possible alternative interim measures,’ Cr Richardson said.

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