To fully understand the folly of the proposed interim rock works on Belongil, it is helpful to recap on some recent history.
The works are interim in the same way the sandbags are interim. That is, until longer-term measures are adopted under a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). Council has been developing a draft CZMP for public exhibition in the next few months. Spending a large amount of money now to fill in one small part of the coast just before a CZMP is considered by the community as both arrogant and wasteful.
It is also high risk. A previous draft CZMP on the cusp of adoption some years ago had to be abandoned when the NSW government changed the requirements for CZMPs. To have gone ahead at the time would have opened up considerable potential legal liabilities for the council.
Cr Wanchap’s attempt to dress this madness in a cloak of concern with her claim that the works will ‘go a long way to reduce the harm’ of a major storm is bizarre. A storm big enough to ‘cut off’ the Belongil Spit, put the lives of ‘emergency workers… in harm’s way’ and require residents ‘who have had their power, water and sewerage cut off’ to be ferried to safety, is a storm that will not be stopped by this wall.
Expert advice points to greater damage to surrounding properties and the exposed coastline and creek mouth to the north.
Far from preventing harm, the wall may magnify it. At a cost of over $1 million, significant resources will be diverted from infrastructure and environmental works programs to fund the rock follies at Belongil.
In light of this background and costs, the five councillors promoting this scheme need to take a step back and allow the community to have a say in the future management of the coastline when the draft CZMP goes on exhibition.
Byron Shire Cr Basil Cameron, Goonengerry