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Byron Shire
February 2, 2023

Brunswick, Belongil and Tallows wait for Emergency Response Beacons

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Emergency Response Beacon at Dreamtime Beach, Fingal Head. Photo Surf Life Saving NSW

In early November two men were saved from drowning at Dreamtime Beach, Fingal Head when a women activated the Emergency Response Beacon (ERB), alerting the Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) State Operations Centre that the men were drowning.

The ERB at Dreamtime is one of 20 currently positioned at blackspots around the state, the initiative is managed by Surf Life Saving NSW and funded through the NSW government. There is also another ERB at North Kingscliff.

The beacon provides direct voice communication with the Surf Life Saving State Operations Centre in Sydney and video camera capability which allows operators to view an incident, says Director of Lifesaving at Surf Life Saving NSW, Joel Wiseman.

The aim of this lifesaving device is to streamline and shorten response times to coastal emergencies. All it requires is a touch of the button and the appropriate assets can be tasked to assist.

None in Byron Shire

A reader recently alerted The Echo to the fact that Surf Lifesaving NSW has had three ERBs ready to go in since mid-2022 at Brunswick Heads breakwall, Belongil Beach and Tallows Beach – but they have yet to be installed. 

The delay to installation comes from the complicated mix of approvals that may or may not be required for the installation of the ERBs. 

Byron Shire Council’s (BSC) Manager, Open Spaces and Facilities Malcolm Robertson has told The Echo that, ‘Council is supportive of the installation of emergency response beacons at Tallow Beach, Brunswick Heads and Belongil and this has been communicated to Surf Lifesaving NSW.

‘The proposed locations are on Crown Land and it is Council’s understanding that Surf Lifesaving NSW is working with Crown Lands to obtain the necessary permits for the ERBs.’

However, the need to determine if development consent and land owners consent are required appears to be the holdup. 

‘Crown Lands has received an application from Surf Life Saving NSW for a licence to be allocated for Emergency Rescue Beacons to be placed on beachfront land,’ a spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands told The Echo.

‘SLSNSW has been asked to provide confirmation that the ERB’s are exempt from planning approvals with local councils. Also, the proposed locations for the ERB’s in Byron Shire are on lands where Native Title has been recognised, so Crown Lands is consulting with NTS CORP and the Bundjalung People of Byron Bay (Arakwal People) as the native title holders as is required in accordance with the  Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993.’

As summer approaches along with the chance to enjoy a swim at some of Byron Shire’s excellent swimming spots, there are plenty of people hoping that the process of installation can be moved along at a reasonable pace.

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