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March 27, 2023

Court to hear injunction bid over Belongil rock wall

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A bid for an injunction against Byron Shire Council’s controversial rock wall construction at Belongil Beach will be heard by the NSW Land and Environment Court in Sydney tomorrow (Wednesday).

The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) yesterday secured a last-minute hearing in the court after councl’s lawyers rejected a request for an Environmental Impact Statement to be carried out for the works by last Friday.

Council instead gave the agreed 72-hours notice for starting work on the wall to community lobby group Positive Change for Marine Life, which the EDO is representing.

The notice by council means construction of the rock wall could begin as early as tomorrow (Wednesday).

The legal challenge, if successful, could set a precedent across Australia in regard to how local government deals with coastal erosion with the impact of sea-level rises due to climate change.

Positive Change for Marine Life spokesman Christopher Deimel said the interlocutory injunction being heard by the court tomorrow was a vital action and showed the Byron community was ‘standing behind local beach protection’.

Mr Deimel said there was widespread public anger at council’s decision to construct the ‘Interim Beach Access Stabilisation Wall’ and the issue was now coming to a head with the legal battle to halt the works.

‘The EDO requested an injunction be placed upon the commencement of the works until such a statement (the environmental impact study) allays concern that science and the community’s wishes are being ignored at the bequest of a small number of wealthy landowners,’ he said.

‘The NSW Coastal Panel has refused to endorse rock walls as a viable solution to coastal erosion.

‘The legal action comes after many months of heated public discontent at the handling of the proposal.

‘The case has the potential to set an important precedent across Australia in its dealing with coastal erosion in an era of increasing coastal development amid fears of climate change-induced sea-level rise,’ Mr  Deimel said.

The contentious rock wall plan was pushed through in a vote where pro-development councillors had a slight majority.

The construction plan, using more than a $1 million in ratepayers’ money, reversed a decades-old policy of planned retreat.

Opponents say the plan was rushed through despite fears of unforeseen impacts such as sand and habitat loss.

Mr Deimel said locals, including a large surfer population, ‘fear the potential of this will lead to the need to transfer sand from the northern end of Tallow Beach to compensate likely sand loss’.

He said Positive Change for Marine Life was also urgently seeking the community’s financial support for the impending court case if the injunction succeeded, and that donations for the #SaveByronsBeaches campaign could be made to: https://planetfunder.org/projects/savebyronsbeaches

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  1. So… nobody saw this coming after the last council elections?

    It’s axiomatic that the people who should vote don’t, and special interest, usually right wing, groups do.

    You’d think that of all places, Byron Bay would buck that tide, but while developers and greed-heads are working the system, the average Joe and Josephine are having a whinge down at the pub or watching this once wonderful community dissipate like so much bong smoke.

    Shame, really.

    All we can do is try to scuttle this latest outrage and make a commitment to work for change at the next election. It’s also an axiom that, in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. Unfortunately, that can lead to a future their children don’t deserve.

    Let’s vote this right wing, anything-for-a-buck mob out next time around. It’s not that hard…

  2. COME to Morning Tea/Vigil,
    Manfred St, Belongil
    tween rock & hard place
    at 11 am WED 9 Sept

    For council to start building rock walls now is to set a new precedent.

    Byron Shire’s coastal zone policy of planned retreat
    is in the balance.

    Meanwhile, beach erosion will continue and/or quicken.
    Someday, plans for sand pumping will need to be acted on.

    For starters, over $1 million dollars is to be spent on this work.

    for more info see https://planetfunder.org/projects/savebyronsbeaches

    On the beach – BYO your morning tea —
    as it happens



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