Cr Jan Hackett, Byron Bay
Byron Shire Council refuses to take any action to save our once world-class beach, until they can deliver a certified Coastal Management Plan, which will give them ‘permission to act’ as well as a funding source. Given there have been four earlier attempts to have a coastal management plan certified, and with new legislation they are now trying for a fifth time. It could be another five, 10, 25 years before they get any ‘legal’ go-ahead!
Meanwhile the fear-born, reactionary, band-aid actions taken in the ‘70s, together with a massive increase in shoreline development over the last 50 years, have sped up the erosive impacts of our cyclical storms and king tides and eaten out our beach prematurely.
While other coastal councils are successfully taking action NOW to rebuild their ravaged beaches – Illawarra, Newcastle, Kingscliff, the Gold Coast, Gladstone – we are sitting on our hands and doing nothing, nothing but drawing up management plans.
From the glad-bag of rescue measures available to us all, we continue to use and re-jig only those that are the most harmful to any beach – rock walls, groynes, sand bags, lawns, concrete barriers, beach scraping. Seawalls are the greatest killers, as evidenced at Main Beach, while sand scraping is possibly the best interim measure – although none of that is being undertaken in Byron Bay for some reason.
Other councils are educating and activating their communities to work on time-proven, natural, yet inexpensive sand-attracting measures that can rebuild a beach and its protective berm rapidly – eg revegetating the dunes with the right grasses (not lawn, not trees), erecting sand fences that help dunes form by creating a barrier to trap wind-blown sand etc.
Obviously saving the beach at Byron Bay is too hard for this council and the ‘wait and see’ response to the increasing levels of erosion, as well as their stubborn maintenance of the indefensible killer seawall in the middle of Main Beach, is ensuring its imminent death.
Talk about killing the goose that laid the golden egg.