At last week’ Byron Shire Council meeting, councillors again unanimously objected to the actions of North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) and their aggressive attempts to expand their boundaries and claim much of Brunswick Heads public riverside parks, foreshore areas and river access as exclusively theirs.
Thankfully, councillors realised that if they don’t stand up to these developers and protect our public foreshores and keep this land open to all, a dangerous precedent would be set that could have serious implications throughout Brunswick Heads and across the north coast.
Currently, while nearly all North Coast Holiday Parks operations (around 25) are beside beaches or waterways, none has exclusive use of a beach, foreshore or riverbank.
In all cases there is a buffer zone to allow public access along, and to the rivers, lakes and beaches. This is a not only the law but a long held Australian tradition that thankfully has stopped the privatisation and monopolisation of our beaches and waterways.
If council allowed North Coast Holiday Parks to privatise 300 metres of the town’s riverbank in the Terrace Reserve it would have sent the very clear signal to NCHP that they could then start planning to take the entire foreshores at the two other Brunswick Heads Parks, effectively blocking locals from the majority of the town’s public riverside beaches, riverside walking tracks, kayak launch areas and their favourite swimming and fishing spots.
NCHP would then use this precedent to expand all their waterside operations to claim adjoining foreshores as exclusively theirs.
In our local region we would suddenly see the privatisation of the banks of Lake Ainsworth and Shaws Bay in Ballina and much of the river at Evans Head where NCHP has already installed two-metre-high metal ‘spiked fences’ with security gates that only their guests have the combinations to.
Our town’s best foreshore and waterside areas were declared and zoned Crown Land and for Public Purpose Recreation specifically so they would always be for the benefit and use of all and not fenced off and built out for the elite fee paying few.
Thank you councillors for maintaining the fight and insisting the state government keep its grubby hands and its developer mates off our Crown land.
Sean O’Meara, Brunswick Heads