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