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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Belongil Beach ‘soap opera’

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Ian Gow, New Brighton (near the beach and not rich)

 Here we go again. Yet another episode of the soap opera that is Belongil Beach. Let’s all take up our familiar positions and argue about the fate of “rich landowner” beachfront property. Nice Green, ecologically sensitive folk to the left and nasty, rapacious capitalist bastards to the right. My observation is that the “class warfare card” is almost always the first one played, not least in The Echo.

In the middle of this ideological warfare are hundreds and hundreds of normal ratepayers who live in normal houses somewhere near one of our glorious beaches. People who have often lived here for generations and watched sand and dunes go and return and are completely bewildered by the total fixation on a few houses at Belongil.

Could all the participants please keep in mind that these ordinary folk will be financially and emotionally devastated if some arbitrary Council policy designed to teach Belongil a lesson also unfairly costs them their house at some future point. Belongil and the housing there is simply not representative of the bulk of our beachside development.

Is there anyone out there (who actually owns a house) who would not want reasonable opportunity to defend it, in the face of natural disaster?

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  1. Every coastal community is ‘here we go again’ in the coastal soap opera which includes Belongil Beach. No positions are familiar as the very sands and waters shift and and swirl. These are elemental forces.

    Responses might be considered ideological but responses must be made. What is required is more complicated than simplistic politics or caricatures of class struggles. Attention is on Belongil because it is one of the more obviously precarious locations. Ordinary folk must watch the situation carefully because the particular proposals in front of council now commit them as ordinary ratepayers to millions of dollars of ongoing repair and maintenance at this one site into the future.

    Bear in mind that this particular proposal is for works 1. against advice of the state department specialists 2. to a concept plan not a custom tailored engineered design and 3. with uncapped costs i.e. an open chequebook not a capped and fully costed budget. Is this how ordinary people do things?

    The resolution at Belongil also sets an example for the financing of the resolution for the next precarious location and the next one and the next one. It also affects wider community and tourism values of beaches and access and affects the lives of many species of wildlife.

    So what is exactly a reasonable opportunity? Please join this discussion. Everyone invited.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more Mary. This is not a simple debate or a simple situation and Ian, it isn’t just about landowners protecting their properties either. This is about a long-term management strategy, scientists, coastal management experts and even the NSW Coastal Panel all being ignores to build a wall which will potentially have serious consequences on natural systems and ecology in the area as well as public amenity.

      No one is saying that the landowners should be left to drown, however many are arguing logically for the ‘expert’ advice to be adhered to and for adequate public consultation in this process. If the public is to be funding the majority of this wall they should really be informed of what they are paying for and its potential long-term impacts.

  2. Thank you Mary and Karl for putting this issue into perspective.

    We have known about global warming for many decades. Scientists have been telling us for quite a while now that the planet is heating faster than they had predicted and seas may rise more than previously thought. It seems a lot of money could be spent trying to stop the inevitable.

    As a long term rate payer I do want to know the possible impacts and cost involved in what may be a futile attempt to protect beachfront properties.


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