The owner of Beach Byron Bay cafe and restaurant, that has been affected by coastal erosion on Clarkes Beach, says his business is well and truly open, and he believes a long-term solution can be found to ensure it stays that way.
Ben Kirkwood made the comments in response to a story in last week’s Echo, which stated that the state government was planning to install temporary sand bags to give him and the owner of a nearby cottage time to ‘reconfigure their premises’.
The story also stated Mr Kirkwood and the owner of the cottage had been told to prepare for ‘future retreat’ from the erosion issue.
However, Mr Kirkwood says the sand bags have already been installed, along with a 17-metre man-made sand dune, and that the various stakeholders were working hard to figure out a solution that would allow the cafe to stay.
‘We’re open for business, and we’re staying open’, Mr Kirkwood said.
‘You’re absolutely safe to come here, and everyone is working to find a solution.
‘Crown Lands are not saying that we have to close… nobody’s ordered us to do anything’.
Clarkes Beach was severely affected by coastal erosion over six weeks, between the end of June and the beginning of August.
At its worst, the eroded coastline reportedly came to within a relatively short distance of the cafe’s rear deck.
However, Mr Kirkwood says that the newly installed sandbags and dune works have ensured that his business is protected and can safely continue trading.
Mr Kirkwood is calling for the sand bags to remain, until a long-term solution can be found, and says that he has the support of local political representatives.
‘The politicians I’ve spoken to are saying, “We can work around this”,’ Mr Kirkwood said.
‘This isn’t just about us, it’s about social amenity – it’s about people being able to walk on the beach in Byron. That stretch of beach is worth billions to the NSW economy, not to mention the local economy.
‘And, yes, there’s a business in the middle of it that employ 50 staff and that brings through roughly a hundred thousand people a year at a time when tourism is crucial to rebuilding the NSW economy’.