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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

A new look at how to manage the precious coastline

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Paul Bibby

What can we do to protect the Shire’s beautiful, but fragile coastal environment from climate change and other human impacts?

Having sufficient information about the nature of the problems and adequate policies to address them is a good start, according to a new scoping study by Byron Council.

Unfortunately, in many cases, we appear to be lacking in one or both of these.     

The scoping study is part of Council’s attempt to develop a long-term strategy for the coastline – a Coastal Management Program.

It is currently on public exhibition so that the community can provide feedback.

The study sets out the many challenges the coastal zone is facing and the policies and knowledge we currently have to meet them.

It found that there were inadequate management arrangements for some of the biggest threats facing our coastal environment and, in some cases, a lack of data and information about these threats as well.

Chief among them was the threat of beach erosion, which was rated as a high level threat being experienced right now at nine separate hotspots, spread out along the Shire’s coastline from The Pass to South Golden Beach.

The consequences of beach erosion include: the loss of habitat, public and private assets, beach amenity, and existing surf breaks.

Despite this threat being known for some time, the Scoping Study found that the current arrangements for managing it, such as coastal legislation, physical protection structures and dune management were ‘inadequate’.

There was a pressing need for a ‘co-ordinated and consistent management approach for the entire bay’ including co-operation between different management authorities, and a need for better understanding of the threats within the broader community.

Number of threats

It was one of a number of threats designated as ‘high-level’ where insufficient management arrangements are in place; others include shoreline recession, a lack of community awareness, and insufficient or inappropriate governance.

Another high-level threat currently lacking management is coastal development, according to the study. It noted that coastal development was currently encroaching into ‘natural coastal processes’.

‘Poorly sited coastal development – and associated works such as revetments… may result in enhanced hazard impacts…’ the study states.

‘Poorly sited coastal development may also enhance pressure for hard engineering and protection works, further damaging the natural coastal environment.’

At the same time, the information and data available about the various threats was inadequate in some cases, and rated as ‘moderate’ in many others.

Threats about which we have inadequate information and data include: cliff instability, recreational boating and fishing, anti-social behaviour and unsafe practices such as beach fires, and overuse and overcrowding of beaches and associated facilities.

Public comment closes February 3, 2020.

To view the plan, visit www.byron.nsw.gov.au and search for ‘Coastal Management Program.’

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