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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Rock wall plan favours Belongil landowners

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It appears that all people in the Byron Shire are not to be treated equally when it comes to deciding whether to put rocks on public land at Belongil beach. Cr Ibrahim feels there is no need for public submissions (Letters 12 November). I disagree.

At a Council meeting on 21 March Cr Ibrahim, along with Crs Wanchap, Woods, Hunter and Cubis, voted against using a normal DA process to determine whether or not to put rocks on the beach at Belongil. Instead they voted to delegate this matter to the general manager to pursue. Their decision effectively denied residents the opportunity to make public submissions prior to this issue being determined.

But here’s the sting. Certain Belongil landowners have been invited to participate in a consultation process on this matter and will be able to make comments on the Design of Interim Beach Access Stabilisation Works – Belongil, Byron Bay, and a draft Review of Environmental Factors. That’s right. If you own land near the proposed rock wall sites you get to have a say. If you are a resident who accesses the public beach at Belongil you do not. Is this fair and reasonable? I think not.

In this matter, private ownership rights appear to hold more sway than your right as a local resident and beach user to have a say. To paraphrase George Orwell: ‘all people in the Byron Shire are equal, but some people are more equal than others’. This is the sort of inequitable planning process I cannot support. I believe elected representatives should uphold a standard that treats residents equally and allows them the right to have an equal say on matters of public interest. Anything less than this is called something else.

I would urge my fellow councillors to reconsider their stance on how this matter is being determined.

In the meantime, for residents to stay informed on the rock wall issue and other coastal matters of interest you can always subscribe to the Coastal E-News on Council’s website: www.byron.nsw.gov.au/newsletters.

Paul Spooner, Byron Shire councillor

 


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Paul for keeping the electorate well informed on this issue.

    As you are well aware the degradation of Belongil Beach has been a great concern of mine ever since returning to live here almost a decade ago.

    I must say that Cr Ibrahim informed me earlier in the year, that a positive response to the call from Belongil Beach landholders to complete the rock-walling of that section of our beachfront and thereby protect their ‘temporary’ holdings, was a promise he gave them when recently elected to Council. He also went on to say that the loss of sand and public facility at Belongil Beach was of little significance – due to the abundance of sandy stretches elsewhere in the area – eg, Clarkes, Wategos and Tallow (I presume).

    So it seems that you are 100% correct in noting that one small section of the electorate has been favoured and conferred with beyond the interests of the remainder.

    The entirety of the once whole sweep of beach that made ‘the Bay’ the attraction and drawcard it has historically been, has been systematically fragmented and broken up into a series of small sandy strips wedged between rocky groynes and walls – due to a lack of planning, foresight and considerable ignorance.

    And now we, the vast majority of the electorate, can only watch and read about the final demise of our waterfront.

    Vale Byron Bay.

    • Paul Spooner’s rocky inconsistent logic he said, “I believe elected representatives should uphold a standard that treats residents equally and allows them the right to have an equal say on matters of public interest”
      Paul said, “But here’s the sting. Certain Belongil landowners have been invited to participate in a consultation process on this matter and will be able to make comments on the Design of Interim Beach Access Stabilisation Works – Belongil, Byron Bay, and a draft Review of Environmental Factors. That’s right. If you own land near the proposed rock wall sites you get to have a say. If you are a resident who accesses the public beach at Belongil you do not. Is this fair and reasonable? I think not.”
      Paul the clue is in the title “Interim Beach Access Stabilisation Works” The public beach access at Manfred St has been closed for many months, that’s the work Council in undertaking to stabilise the public access, in conjunction with the protection of council’s own land. It entirely normal and reasonable that Council would consult with those that will be immediately impacted by those proposed works.
      Council did so in the normal manner about the land recent land slip on Wilsons Creek access road.
      Council consulted directly with residents impacted by the massively expensive Council road access stabilisation works on upper Wilsons Creek.
      There was no bleat from you and others that the entire Shire residents should be consulted not just the few residents positivity impacted by those works or that the works should have undergone a DA process to allow for public comment.
      Don’t paraphrase George Orwell if the circumstances don’t fit.

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