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Byron Shire
September 28, 2021

Byron Council defeats Belongil rock wall injunction

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A protest agains the proposed Belongil rock wall took place on Wednesday September 8.  (picture: taojonesphotographer.com)
A protest against the proposed Belongil rock wall took place on Wednesday September 8. (picture: taojonesphotographer.com)

Hans Lovejoy

Byron Shire Council’s bulldozers are expected to start work on the contentious Belongil rock wall this week after the injunction to stop it from being built failed last Friday.

But it appears the fight is far from over.

Environmental group Positive Change for Marine Life, being represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), took council on over its lack of adequate environmental assessment.

CEO Karl Goodsell told Echonetdaily the group is disappointed with the outcome of the hearing in the Land and Environment Court.

‘The judge said that, “If rock walls can be built, rock walls can be dismantled”.’

‘We are looking forward to receiving the court’s reasons for the decision, which will be delivered in the coming days. If we are correct on the ultimate question regarding significant impacts on the environment, then the wall may be removed even if council decide to proceed with construction.

‘We would like to thank the EDO, our barristers and the community for all of their hard work and support in this matter.’

Meanwhile a Byron Shire councillor opposed to the works says that benefitting landowners have pitched in financially to help council defend itself in court, however a Council spokesperson said that the landowners were not contributing financially to council’s case.

Cr Duncan Dey (Greens) said, ‘[The] most interesting outcome is that the benefitting landholders joined with council against the injunction. The issue is moral, not legal. How moral is it to build this wall just before you discuss the issue of whether to rock or not rock[wall] your coast?’

Known rather oddly as lnterim Beach Access Stabilisation Works, the rock wall project will cost ratepayers nearly $1million and funds have even been shuffled from staff leave entitlements to make it happen. The project has seen extreme public scrutiny and criticism, firstly because it is setting a precedent and secondly because council staff do not know its legal implications .

There are many unknowns: there is no known example of rocks being removed once in place, and the project comes without mitigation in place for the expected sand loss on the iconic public beach.

Additionally, a recent freedom of information request by former Greens mayor Jan Barham revealed that the top coastal panel which advises the NSW government is not in favour of using rocks for the project.

Councillors were advised of the outcome of the recent court action by an internal memo from infrastructure services director Phil Holloway, who said that the applicant’s notice of motion was dismissed, resulting in no injunction.

‘Proceedings were stood over to 9.15 am Tuesday, September 15 for the court to make directions for the running of the final hearing sometime between October 6 and 26 2015.

‘[The] costs of the applicant’s unsuccessful motion for the interim injunction were reserved… the hearing of the matter is to be expedited.’

 


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6 COMMENTS

  1. what this article fails to mention is the statement on the Byron Resident Groups page, which explains that if the council proceed to build now they do so knowing they are risking the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove the rocks again when they lose the proper hearing in October.
    So, if they proceed it demonstrates just how willing they are to dispose of ratepayers funds and how obsessed they are with persuing their own agenda no matter the cost (financial or otherwise)
    hopefully they will surprise us by delaying until the final decision in october is made

  2. Cheer up, slow down, chill out…Byron’s own 1%ers are going to get their way. Real estate agents and developers left the door open for these people years ago. There was a time long ago when Byronites were so excited to hear Byrontown mentioned in the news. What could possibly go wrong?? Byron is now Australia’s version of Hollywood. Over sexed, over priced and over here.

  3. Well there’s a balanced article by Echo. I guess the Council’s side of the story must have been accidentally left out
    Note to Editor: publishing an article where only one side of an argument is presented, to the uninvolved reader detracts from the validity of that very argument.

  4. Exactly Greg. Very one sided. The extreme greens would like to see the whole of the Belongil spit washed away. I’m not sure who that benefits? Not even the crabs. Good to see common sense from the judge supporting common sense from the majority of councillors. The sand bags were not working and most of the rocks are protecting council land and public access. Belongil is the oldest subdivision in Byrob and needs to be preserved. Not further developed – but preserved.

  5. Byron councillors are craning their necks out as Council cranes are expected to lift rocks into place on the contentious Belongil rock wall this week after the injunction by lawyers to stop construction failed last Friday.

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