Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay
Sol Ibrahim intends to make ratepayers pay to construct rock walls at Belongil to protect private houses. This means diverting our rates from roads and public infrastructure into works that will rob us of our public beach. There is no public benefit from Ibrahim’s walls.
With seas rising at an accelerating rate we can expect to have to divert more and more of our rates away from public infrastructure into Ibrahim’s multi-million dollar folly until those works inevitably get over-whelmed.
Ibrahim’s rock walls will accelerate erosion of the Belongil beach in front of the walls, stop the beach retreating inland as sea-levels rise, and transfer erosion onto the important shorebird nesting and roosting area at the mouth of the Belongil estuary.
Back in 1978 it was recognised that the coast was receding so fast that the only realistic choices were to allow the beach to retreat inland as the coast eroded (by moving the houses out of the way when the beach comes within 50m) or to construct inherently unstable rock walls and lose the beach.
Back then Council recognised that it was simply unaffordable and unrealistic to attempt to defend the private houses, and thus Council integrated planned retreat into its Local Environment Plan in 1988.
In 2009, after over a decade of studies, procrastination, and delay, Council finally got to the final vote on whether to adopt its Coastal Zone Management Plan, which reaffirmed planned retreat, before inexplicably deciding to abandon the plan and start again.
There are powerful vested interests opposed to any reaffirmation of planned retreat, so it is no wonder that the plan was dumped and there has been no progress since then.
So now we see a 26 year commitment to planned retreat being undermined and eroded by Councillors intending to use our rates to construct rock walls under the false pretence that they are temporary works and provide a public benefit.
Ibrahim’s rock walls will not only make us pay to destroy a public beach and shorebird nesting and roosting area, it will make ratepayers legally liable for maintaining and improving his folly into the future. He will cost this community dearly.