13.8 C
Byron Shire
May 22, 2024

Byron set to write ‘blank cheque’ for Belongil rocks

Latest News

Trains on roads

Soon we will have electric self-driving cars. The number of cars around the world could drop to ten per...

Other News

Spice Palace: a mecca for Middle Eastern dips and spice mixes

Victoria Cosford The business was a natural fit for Bec and Tom, new owners for the past few months, of...

Managing aquifers to deal with groundwater loss

Australians have worried about running out of water since before colonisation. Back then, coastal Aboriginal people turned to rivers, streams and lakes for drinking water; those inland, perhaps a mound spring or well-charged rock hole.

Will Tweed Council support a community climate change forum?

A motion to support the creation of a Community Leaders Forum that would look at identifying projects and actions that the community can take in response to climate change.

Foodie fest on the table

Food and culture takes centre stage this week, as Caper Byron Bay Food & Culture Festival returns May 17 to 26.

Bimbo Jimbo

For Treasurer Jim Chalmers to say that it was ‘simpler’ to just give everyone the energy rebate of $75...

Lost in pronunciaton

Ivan Aristeguieta is ridiculously funny. What’s better is watching people try and pronounce his name – and then of course, it’s his deep dive into Aussie culture. Ivan has lived in Australia for ten years – as he says ‘living amongst you, observing you, learning about you’ – and now he makes a very good living taking the piss out of you. ‘I am a true blue, dinky-di Venez-stralian. Nah, she’ll be right! (Who is she by the way?).’

Byron Shire Cr Duncan Dey is hoping the National Party councillors won't 'throw a million dollars into the sea at Belongil' today.
Byron Shire Cr Duncan Dey is hoping the National Party councillors won’t ‘throw a million dollars into the sea at Belongil’ today.


Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council today looks set to vote down a proposal to delay the construction of a ‘temporary’ rock wall at Belongil Beach to first allow completion of its Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), due in June next year.

The decision will effectively wave goodbye to $300,000 of state funding for the million dollar project, which the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has now confirmed is contingent on the work complying with the yet-to-be adopted CZMP.

Secret agreement

Instead, council staff have recommended entering into a secret agreement with affected Belongil landowners to partially fund the works, with the balance being picked up by the council’s ratepayers.

But the sting in the tail for ratepayers is that they will never know how much they had to contribute because the negotiations with the landowners are considered commercial-in-confidence.

Yet in a letter to council, received on October 24, the OEH confirmed the additional funds could still be made available provided that the works did not commence before the approval of the CZMP, and that the document recommended they proceed.

‘The NSW Coastal Panel have previously advised council of their concerns about the scale of the proposed interim works, which have significant impact on the amenity of the already compromised beach area and associated public access,’ reads the letter, signed by OEH environmental programs director Carolyn Davies.

‘In addition, the proposed interim works might compromise the long-term management strategy for this area currently being considered in developing the Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Byron Bay embayment,’ it continues.

Greens Cr Duncan Dey has a notice of motion on today’s agenda that would see the work delayed but he fears that the change in the balance of power on council will see the work go ahead, with ratepayers being forced to pick up the tab.

In an unusual series of recommendations, the staff report calls for council to approve the works by no later than 5pm today.

Vaughan holding out

The report admits for the first time that, despite the constant reference to them as temporary, ‘the works are not considered to fall within the definition of temporary protection works as defined under the Coastal Management Act 1979.’

It notes also that, ‘with the exception of one directly affected landowner, the remainder of participants provided in-principle agreement to make a contribution towards the construction and maintenance of the proposed works.’

Ironically the landowner holding out in principle agreement is John Vaughan, who has been the shire’s most vocal advocate of the plan and who will be addressing council today.

The recommendation confirms that discussions are already underway with residents in the Manfred Street area, including Mr and Mrs Vaughan (lots 11-14), Mr and Mrs Burke (lot 37) and Shuttlewood Properties (lot 15) but that the amounts of their contributions have yet to be negotiated.

Negotiations have also been proceeding with residents regarding easements over their properties and, according to the staff report, Mr Vaughan has indicated he is ‘ “not entirely comfortable’ with the proposed easement on his property and has asked if there was any alternative to an easement to which staff responded by explaining again the reasons for the easement, and again Mr Vaughan indicated he would work with his solicitors on the issue.’

The report continued that Mr Vaughan had indicated ‘he did not want to hold up the works and would write to council that day, 13 October 2014, advising his position on the funding contribution, easement and agreement’.

But at the time of writing the report (October 17), council had ‘not received any written response from, or on behalf of, Mr and Mrs Vaughan and the required documents have not been returned signed’.

In a somewhat bizarre twist, given the urgency with which it considers the works should proceed, the report provides an out-clause if Mr Vaughan does not approve the easement over his property, which would see the funding redirected instead to the area around Don Street.

Nats hold the key

Cr Dey said it will be interesting to watch the National Party-aligned councillors, ‘who normally claim the higher fiscal ground, vote for council to throw most of a million dollars at something that would be a lot cheaper done in 2015 under a CZMP (if the plan approved it)’.

Cr Sol Ibrahim’s support of rock walls is well known and Cr Dey said he expected Cr Rose Wanchap would ‘vote like a real estate agent’ on the issue.

But he held out hope that Crs Di Woods, Chris Cubis and Alan Hunter would ‘do the right thing by the ratepayers and not throw the millions into the sea at Belongil’.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. This is truly an inequitable and quite disgraceful affair. Ratepayers “propping up” select areas, “secret funding” distribution, don’t we have enough have /nots, verging on unjust in this loving shire already? The ‘planned retreat ‘ was going to be almost impossible to enforce… this is backflip on steroids

  2. What happened to ‘planned retreat’? Honestly this sucks throwing away hard working ratepayers money for the privileged few. This is madness.

  3. There seems to be no vision or continuity concerning this issue. Geo-sand bags are used elsewhere. What happened to the use of them instead of rock walls and/or their use as artificial reefs/surf breaks to reduce erosion? Who will pay to have rocks removed after they are in if they fail to do the job? Rocks, concrete rubble and wrecked cars are not an informed answer to this problem. They are an eyesore and a disaster for the shore line.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Posters gone

I am writing to bring attention to a growing issue in our community – the removal of community posters. As a resident of this...

Bimbo Jimbo

For Treasurer Jim Chalmers to say that it was ‘simpler’ to just give everyone the energy rebate of $75 per quarter is stupid but...

Cartoon of the week – 22 May, 2024

The letters deadline for The Echo is noon Friday. Letters longer than 200 words may be cut. The publication of letters is at the discretion of the letters editor.

We Like to Tiki: Caper festival closing party this Sunday

North Byron Hotel is the official watering hole of Caper Byron Bay Food & Culture Festival 2024. To celebrate what is set to be...