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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

West Byron and its sewerage dilemma

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‘Clause 45’ of the old Byron Local Environment Plan (LEP) requires that ‘prior adequate arrangements’ exist for sewage management before a Development Application (DA) like the Villawood one for West Byron can be approved.

That’s because the proposal relies on Byron Bay’s sewer system. Court cases confirmed that rule and it became the basis for ‘moratoriums’ in the shire 10 to 20 years ago.

The state rezoned West Byron under that old LEP. Questions like the following should be answered (by planning and legal experts) before the state’s Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) considers the current DA:

  1. Does the old LEP apply here for West Byron? Answer should be Yes, as the rezoning was under that LEP (the new LEP2014 is less stringent about sewerage arrangements).
  2. Does the inadequate flow-path (downstream of the Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant license points) constitute an issue in the question of prior adequate arrangement?
  3. Does council need the consent of the Belongil Swamp Drainage Union to increase its discharge rates into the Union Drain?

Byron’s sewage is treated at Byron Bay STP and then released to the environment via a network of drains through private property, including the Union Drain which then flows into Belongil Creek.

The property owners agreed in the mid 2000s to accept STP effluent at 1 megalitre/day (ML/d) in dry weather. That flow is now about 4 ML/d and rising.

Council is a sewerage authority, separate from its role as a planning authority and other roles. Is that authority certain that prior adequate arrangements have been made for sewage that the West Byron proposal will produce?

Council’s Coast Estuary Catchment Panel advised council on 16 March 2017 that the arrangements had failed, and suggested a moratorium be considered.

Maybe the Authority could issue the JRPP a letter stating that it is unable to certify that prior adequate arrangements exist for sewerage from West Byron.

Duncan Dey, Mullumbimby


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  1. The original Byron Local Environment Plan (LEP) in ‘Clause 45’ of that document states a pre-consisting condition for the legal requirements of that Plan in that ‘prior adequate arrangements’ must exist and therefore be practicable for the management of sewage before any Development Application (DA), similar to the Villawood DA for West Byron, can be approved.


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