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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Byron coastal plan irresponsible

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Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay.

I remain incredulous that Byron Shire Council intends to build a rock wall at Belongil with no mitigation measures, in the full knowledge that the beach in front of the walls and the rest of the Belongil spit, including the shorebird nesting and roosting area and littoral rainforest, will wash away.

I still don’t understand why Water Resources Laboratory altered their ‘final’ November 2015 report in March to recommend proceeding with rock walls without groynes and sand nourishment, as they know this is in direct contravention of Section 55C of the Coastal Protection Act.

I also can’t understand why council staff then quickly recommended proceeding with just rock walls given that the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Minister for Planning had repeatedly advised them for over a year that rock walls would not be approved without a sand nourishment scheme.

I am disgusted that Byron Council intends to proceed without identifying and mitigating the impacts on the beach, the spit, Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve, endangered littoral rainforest, the shorebird roosting and nesting area or Elements resort at north beach. Particularly as there is a legal obligation to do so,

This council is acting grossly irresponsibly by trying to abandon 30 years of planned retreat and making this community liable for maintaining rock walls that will inevitably fail in an era of rising sea levels, and to pay compensation for accelerating impacts on north beach.

I don’t see how the minister for planning can possibly approve a plan that so blatantly contravenes his advices and the requirements of the Coastal Protection Act. Either council is deliberately setting the plan up to fail, or they know something else I don’t.

Council doesn’t care what you think, but tell them anyway. Make sure you tell the Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, not to approve this travesty: [email protected]


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  1. I am interested to hear how a new rock wall properly designed with greater slope, will impact the environment so much more than the existing almost continuous 1.1km stretch of rock walls?

    it wont.

    Can’t we safely assume that coastal experts can design a wall that will have less impact on the beach than the community doing it themselves to save the town in the 70s?

    Think about it people, it makes no sense!

    And wouldn’t the greatest environmental disaster of all to be for the existing rocks to be removed, when we know that the beach would then recede by 25m+ (due to Jonson St) causing a breakthrough of the spit and really destroying the areas that you talk about?

    Planned retreat has failed, and is not workable in an urban area that was first developed 140 years ago.

  2. Hi David Trewern,

    I answered this elsewhere (Byron Echo, Local News | June 8, 2016 | by Hans Lovejoy ), pointed out the fallacies in your argument and yet you still purvey your self-interested opinion. The breakthrough of the sea across the Belongil Spit is only hastened by this rockwall proposal. The proposal comes down to: let’s build a better wall, protect (y)our property and watch it happen. There are no mitigation measures to prevent it, no costing of what might happen when it does break through.
    And we sacrifice the beach in the process.

    The only reason planned retreat has not been successful is the deep pockets of the Belongil landowners threatening to sue. Being held to ransom, then affronted by the Council’s rush to pander to their demands with a cash-splash on rocks and this new CZMP-lite, has brought home the issues clearly. This public interest v. sand-dune dwellers battle is happening on a much wider front, and the Coastal Management Reforms are on public exhibition, the release of the new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy and maps just months away. The hastily prepared, open-ended, non-compliant Draft CZMP for the Byron Embayment may be the only chance for Belongil to get easy public money from Council coffers into the future. No wonder they are playing all their cards.

  3. David,
    My apologies, I see now that this letter was from June 6, before your comments on the more recent article. I can see that my first sentence in my response is wrong. I stand by the rest of it.


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