Do you know about the little coastal community village called Sheltering Palms, near Brunswick Heads? It was a village that was destroyed by the cyclone of 1974 known as Cyclone Pam. Why is that important? Because there are a lot of areas, like Sheltering Palms, that are affected by erosion and cyclones along the coastal areas of Byron Shire. These areas need to be recognised and managed effectively through a Coastal Management Program (CMP).
The Byron Shire council us currently asking for your comment on Stage 1 of the Scoping Study of its long-term CMP. It will close on January 17, 2020.
The CMP will determine what is going to happen to our coastline, how it will be managed, where people can and can’t build and how we protect our natural assets like beaches, nature reserves and cultural heritage.
‘The study area encompasses the shoreline from the northern tip of Little Wategos Beach to our northern boundary, immediately to the north of South Golden Beach,’ Council’s coastal and biodiversity manager, Chloe Dowsett said.
‘It includes the near-shore coastal waters and beaches, and extends landwards to the maximum potential year 2100 coastal hazard lines as developed by Council for the study area in 2013.’
Important to understand cyclonic history of the region
Council have been working on this issue for many years with major planning and research conducted by council around 2008. At the time these studies informed council about the current sand transportation and modelling that should be used as a baseline information for future modelling said former Byron Shire Council Mayor Jan Barham.
‘Byron coastal history is peppered with periods of wild coastal storms, including cyclones that damaged structures and ripped away much of the coastline and vegetation,’ said Ms Barham.
‘Much of last century’s coastal destruction was exacerbated by the gouging of our shores by sand mining, leaving our coastal fringe fragile and unprotected. It is important that the community understand the council needs to ensure that we don’t allow development and building on areas that are unsafe and vulnerable. When people are seeking to build in these areas, that are known as coastal erosion zones, the council must take into account the proper legal consideration of the future risk; if they don’t it puts the whole community at risk.
‘With the high value of real estate in areas like Belongil and other coastal areas – council has to seriously consider the financial and legal risks of approving development in these vulnerable areas. Council has already been taken to court over the rock walls in Belongil as well as in other areas like New Brighton and South Golden Beach where coastal erosion has impacted.
‘Thirty years ago these areas were selling very cheaply because people knew that they were sites of significant risk. At these sites there are also issues around getting insurance and the banks often won’t lend for mortgages in these erosion zones due to the very real risks associated with them.’
Stage 1 open for comment
Stage one will primarily focus on coastal hazards and the two areas of concern on the open coast between Cape Byron and South Golden Beach where property and/or infrastructure are at risk, including Belongil Beach and New Brighton Beach Ms Dowsett explains in the council’s press release.
‘However, the CMP will also aim to conserve and promote the natural, social and cultural values of the coastline through planning for a resilient coastline that addresses multiple challenges,’ she states.
‘Everyone with an interest in the management of this coastline is encouraged to review the scoping study and email any feedback to Council.’
For more information about the Stage 1 Scoping Study, see Council’s website. If you would like to provide feedback or chat with our Coastal & Biodiversity Coordinator, Chloe Dowsett, please contact Council on 02 6626 7128 or [email protected].