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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Elements faces delay with rail approvals

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Plans to run a diesel train from the Elements of Byron resort in Belongil into Byron’s CBD appears to have been delayed, owing to a request by the applicant Byron Bay Railroad Company (BBRC) to delete a DA condition that requires the landowner (TfNSW) to place a Coastal Erosion restriction on the title of the land.

Byron Bay Railroad Company Ltd (BBRC) is a not-for-profit subsidiary of Elements of Byron, a resort reputedly worth $100m and owned by QLD-based coal miner Brian Flannery. BBRC holds a non-exclusive license from TfNSW to use the rail corridor and rail infrastructure and a Development Approval (DA) was granted on September 17, 2015 from Byron Shire Council for the construction of the two platforms and the train storage shed.

Specifically, Condition 15 of the approved DA requires an imposition of a section 88E instrument to be placed on the title of the land in relation to coastal erosion.

Echonetdaily understands that S88E is an instrument within the Conveyancing Act 1919 which places restriction on title and that ‘condition 15’ must be complied with prior to issuing a construction certificate and commencing any works.

Such a decision is imposed by council, and condition 15 states consent of the development must cease, be removed and revegetated, ‘if at any time the coastal erosion escarpment comes within 50 meters of any building associated with this development.

The BBRC has lodged a S96 application to delete this condition and it is currently on public exhibition and submissions close September 14.

Concerned neighbours contacted Echonetdaily, saying that if the S96 request was approved, it would be unfair on everyone else who is compliant with the LEP.

Statement by residents

A statement was provided that has ‘the full support of the Sunrise Residents group, the Belongil Residents and Business group’.

It reads, ‘It is a requirement for any development in Byron Bay that is within the costal erosion zone to place a restriction on their title (s 88E). This would be unfair that every property in the erosion zone must have this 88E, except for the applicant BBRC. Will the owners of the land, TfNSW, allow such a restriction to be placed on the railway land title?’

‘It is unlikely that a state Government body will allow such a restriction to unnecessarily be placed on public infrastructure.

‘This would also bring into question ambitions currently being gazetted by the mayor Simon Richardson who is seeking a return to office. His claims of constructing infrastructure along the rail corridor would appear unrealistic given that such ambitions need to be applied for by the owner of the Land (TfNSW) who must accept current legislation governing coastal erosion.

‘It is surprising that the mayor of a town with significant costal erosion issues and policies has overlooked such a significant requirement before releasing such a major policy platform.

‘It is particularly interesting that Cr Richardson voted in favour of the proposal to run a 70 year old diesel Train to the Elements resort in September 2015 which seems to contradict his new green ideas.

‘It is also interesting that Cr Richardson has ignored pleas from effected residents to have a full environmental assesment of the BBRC proposal up to this date.

Elements of Byron reply

Development director for North Byron Beach Resort, Jeremy Holmes replied, ‘The Section 96 application from Byron Bay Railroad Company relates to the Byron town centre platform only. The application seeks to delete Condition 88E because BBRC has already committed to cease the train operation if at any time the coastal erosion escarpment comes within 50 metres of any building associated with the development.

Let’s look at the facts here. The platform is over 150 metres from the coastal escarpment. Most of the First Sun Caravan park would have to be washed away before this trigger would come into effect. The state government-owned railway corridor is public infrastructure, like a bus stop or road reserve. Would the council remove a road or a bus stop if it were within 50 metres of the coast? This cannot be compared to residential or commercial property within the same zoning.’

A spokesperson from TfNSW told Echonetdaily, ‘Transport for NSW does not support restrictions on TfNSW land that would affect its rights now or in the future.’

The North Byron Beach Resort is a 200 acre property which encompasses Elements of Byron (50 acres), Bayshore Bungalows, The Sun Bistro and the land beside Elements of Byron on which the Byron Bay Writers Festival is held.

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  1. Let’s not be fooled! This is a toy train to transport the cashed-up guests at Elements into Byron quickly. It is not public transport and will be highly polluting. How was it approved so easily?

    • Diesel engines are popular with heavy vehicles because they are very efficient. They provide a lot of power for a vehicle under load while using relatively little non-renewable energy. Newer diesels like newer petrol engines are also relatively quiet and clean – much cleaner than ancient Kombis and Lasers with “Vote Green” on the bumper! . It is possible to go beyond that to renewable based electric vehicles but that is very expensive and if done on a large scale it will would require very high capital investments. Better reductions can be more easily made by shifting people from single use of larger and older petrol vehicles, to newer petrol and diesel cars, and by encouraging cycling and shared transport. This tram may provide for the latter for a limited number of users, but the most effective way to achieve reduced emissions is to get people car pooling or using buses for longer trips and for short distances bikes, bikes, trikes and more bikes.

        • Alan. All transport engines produce toxins, the question is how much. Electric vehicles generate pollution at the point of production; you can use solar for trains and buses but at high cost and a good measure of pollution – probably in China – at the production stage. They can be good where point of use pollution is an issue but that is not a great problem, in regional coastal Australia. Getting people out of transport that generates high levels of pollution and global warming impacts particularity individuals driving solely in older and heavier cars – is the most effective way to reduce those toxins. In terms of reductions, shifts to pedal cycling are far and away the most effective, followed by electric cycles, use of buses and then modern multiple passenger cars, with trains effective too but only in high volume situations. So make cycling safer, improve the bus services, and, to the limited degree possible in a regional area, disincentive single car use through means like parking charges and lane priority. But most of all in a small town prioritise cycles, bicycles, tricycles and more cycles again.

  2. I thought we are progressing in this shire!!! why on earth do we need aDIESEL TRAIN??? If we want to use a train please use a more environmental train!!!
    BYRON SHIRE in my opinion is going backwards!

  3. It is entirely unfathomable that the current mayor SIMON RICHARDSON – who is promoting his current bid for re-election by saying that he supports the environment – would VOTE IN SUPOORT of a DIRTY DIESEL TRAIN

  4. Hey guys – you need to do your homework! You keep saying this same old stuff over and over again – I guess that’s what you’re aiming at, it doesn’t matter if it’s factual at all – it’s just a diatribe to make people as negative as you. The truth is that this train has, of course, all the modern filters that are required for a current licence, for it to be used as public transport in NSW.

    It actually only uses half a litre of fuel for the three and a half kilometre trip from Sunrise to Byron, and that’s to transport 106 people! Surely you can’t say that is a bad outcome. If all those people drive that distance into Byron they will use so much more fuel to do so!

    Get real, indeed – there’s no way all those people would ride a bike instead into town and back.
    We need public transport and this is a a good start!

    • Obviously some of them would not be interested but why wouldn’t people ride 3.5 kms into town if there was a safe path into town ? It would take about 10 minutes and the only fuel needed would be half an extra spoonful of Muesli and a dollop more of Norco’s finest white!.

  5. I am not against the train what so ever, so I am not being self righteous here, but would prefer a bike/walk area because firstly, how long will it be before we have to have security on the train (with substance users loosing their way so to speak), and secondly, visitors are allowed to take bikes on the train, so great for the industrial estate businesses, but with the increase of bikes on the roads in that industrial state area, visitors without helmets, casually riding along, (we see it around Byron how they have the headphones on, no helmets, drifting across the roads) how many call outs are the paramedics going to get now (yes I understand it would still occur if it was a bike track), how many possible brain injury victims, and these issues are not addressed in yet again an over all developers plan! Can’t analysis what this means for all stake holders. And seeing their is an discussion ‘tags’ and ‘artwork’? Is there potential to prevent that from happening? We will need security on the trains at night if they run at nights…fact!
    I have to agree that it would be a huge coup for Elements if this goes ahead, and for the retail businesses for tourists in the Industrial estate….however no management plan or consultants were brought in to measure the impact of additional tourist bike riders in an already dangerous Industrial Estate, and how are we going to slow the cars down with the excess and overflow of tourists now on bikes. Its not always about DA’s and Council position, any MAJOR project likes this need a total management plan to measure all impacts of the project outcomes. Does our council ever get outside consultants in who specialise in these areas. We lack foresight and just run with ideas.


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