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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Ratepayers should not pay for rock walls

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Our beach or million dollar houses?

Continuing Rod Murray’s question on why is council spending so much of our ratepayers money to build rock walls to protect these few houses?

Experience at the Johnson Street wall, elsewhere along the Australian coast and internationally, shows rock walls to protect the ocean front results in accelerated beach erosion and ongoing maintenance.

This money will add up to  millions of dollars with the continuing responsibility coming to our council for maintaining the walls, the loss of the beach and the probable impacts of erosion accelerated elsewhere.

If these coastal works are done with a Coastal Zone Management Plan in place at least the costs of construction and maintenance will  be shared between council and the NSW government, not solely by us ratepayers.

Citizens of Byron shire, please ask your council these questions before your money and your beach are washed away.

Ruth and Andrew Winton-Brown, Possum Creek

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  1. In relation to Council’s current proposed interim rock works at Manfred St, it will protect Council’s or ratepayers million dollar residential land asset at Manfred St as well as a public road.
    In relation to the proposed draft plan (CZMP) , firstly this Council and every Green dominated Council before including Mayor Barhams have voted to protect the Byron Town centre and to retain and rebuild the Jonson St structure. A structure that sits 90 metres seaward of past beach positions.
    This is what the proposed sand nourishment is required to address, the impact of the Jonson St structure on Belongil Beach.
    Winton Brown said “The 1978 long-term report said that [those properties] will all go eventually so there ought to be a planned retreat. So if you’ve built houses in the wrong place maybe you should pull them down eventually rather than pouring money into them to try and keep them up.”
    This is just BS; read the 1978 report Mr Brown, it made five alternative recommendations none of which was “Retreat” as the Greens have come to understand it.
    One recommendation was village “relocation” which was not recommended or adopted for Belongil or the Byron Bay town centre. Council adopted in 1983 the 1978 reports recommendation for a series of groynes, which again was recommended by experts to Council in 1989. The Jonson St structure was to be the first in a planned series of groynes.
    The whole premise of current planning policy has its roots in a false understanding of coastal processes, which was base on massive deficits in the sand supply naturally coming around the Cape.
    We know that experts in the field in fact no longer believed this to be the case. The sand deficit is now understood to be < 10% of earlier understanding.
    Belongil residents don’t want a sand by-pass to manage the impact of the Jonson St structure. Although it may be imposed by an ill informed State agency to manage the Jonson St impact.
    We believe the WBM Oceanics recommendations that were before Council in 2002 for adoption in the CZMP process. The recommendation was for an end control structure adjacent Belongil Creek and would have been more than adequate to address the down-stream impact of the Jonson St structure. Alas Mayor Barham used her casting vote to overturn WBM’s recommended path.
    “Mr Brown also questioned why a coastal zone management plan (CZMP) that was completed in 2010 and submitted to the state government for approval was later withdrawn by Byron Shire Council’s then general manager Graeme Faulkner.”
    That’s easy to answer, the plan (CZMP) was flawed and subject to legal challenge. The proposed Draft CZMP was an inequitable plan that in law proposed to commit a tort by removing the current Belongil rock protection works and placing existing residential properties (about 150) in danger from a coastal impacts now recognized as largely caused by the Council’s construction of the Jonson St structure.
    Belongil has rock walls protecting the village, rock walls that have mostly been in place since the mid 1970s. The rock walls were all fully funded by residents and industry and built with the blessing of the Councils of the day. Forty years later, without any sand by-pass from Tallow Beach, Belongil currently has a beautiful wide sandy beach. Gosh! A wide sandy beach and rock walls surely an oxymora.


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