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Byron Shire
August 15, 2022

Thoughts on development

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Coastal engineer Angus Gordon’s thoughts on development and flooding in the Ocean Shores/New Brighton/South Golden Beach area don’t explicitly answer the question posed in the headline ‘Can residents be protected from the next heavy weather event’ (Echo, 13 April), but clearly identify the basic problem: ‘…it should never have been developed in the first place.’

Why was this flood-prone coastal floodplain allowed to be developed? It might have something to do with a gullible small-town council being easily swayed by smooth-talking developers whose ‘…liberal time payments and gorgeous lithographs will populate localities one day doomed to represent the dark valley of the shadow of death.’ (A. Meston, Northern Star, 18/2/1993).  

There is nothing new in this, but I’m sure it wouldn’t happen these days, would it? (Who’s that whispering ‘West Byron’ in my ear?). 

People who have bought in these areas have every right to be concerned, but should be wary of seemingly easy answers that have circulated in the area. Part of this is the claim, attributed in the article to Jan Mangleson, that ‘Council ordered Princess Properties to block the outlet…’, referring to a temporary flood outlet built through the dunes by the developers in 1973.  

The reality is that at the Council meeting on 25/5/1976 the President, as the Mayor was then called, referred to ‘…the imminent close-down of the company’s operations’, and Council resolved that ‘Princess Properties Pty Ltd be requested to restore the access along the mining road to the north of the subdivision.’  

At the Council meeting on 27/7/1976 the Shire Engineer reported that ‘Further to Council’s request to restore the old mining track in the vicinity of the temporary flood outlet north of New Brighton, a letter has been received from the Company indicating the method of construction proposed…’, and Council resolved ‘That the Company’s proposal to block the temporary outfall from the Yelgun catchment be approved by Council.’ 

Past Councils must take the blame for many aspects of development of these areas in the first place, but ordering the closure of the flood outlet is not one of them. 

Matthew Lambourne, Mullumbimby


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