Access to beach restored

Residents hard at work on Saturday restoring access to Belongil Beach.
Residents hard at work on Saturday restoring access to Belongil Beach.
Residents of Belongil Beach at Byron Bay turned out in force on Saturday to restore public access to the beach which was destroyed in the recent storms.

With no sign of any interest by Byron Council, residents decided to make a safe path down to the beach from the car park in Childe Street.

“Men, women and children, plus travellers from as far away as the Caribbean, set to work with shovels and barrows, moving tonnes of earth and rocks over a period of about three hours,” Belongil Progress Association secretary Suzy Campbell said.

“Sandbags were filled and placed securely in position to provide steps down to the beach from the top of the badly eroded dune.

“Since the storms, access to the beach has been difficult and dangerous, both for residents of Belongil and for anyone visiting the area.”

Suzy said the council, which had refused to do anything to protect Belongil and its residents and visitors from storm damage and erosion, appeared to be unaware of the public risk posed by the sand cliffs all along Belongil Beach.

A public notice erected opposite the Belongil Beach House shortly before the working bee warned residents of Belongil that the entire area, all of its houses, apartments and businesses, were in imminent danger as a result of council’s coastal retreat policy.

The notice states that “over 40 full-time jobs will be lost, a beautiful part of the iconic Byron Bay will be lost, and houses and people’s lives will be ruined”.

“Coastal erosion at Belongil is the result of the construction by Byron Shire Council of the Jonson Street car park in the 1970s,” Suzy said.

“This structure, which juts out into the ocean, has created an artificial headland which traps and prevents the natural flow of sand along the foreshore to replenish the Belongil Beach area.”

In the Land and Environment Court in Sydney last week, the case involving Byron Shire Council and Belongil resident John Vaughan continued over a four-day period and at the time of writing was not concluded.

The case is about the right to maintain an approved geo-textile bag wall built by council on Mr Vaughan’s property in 2001.

According to Mr Vaughan, council has failed to maintain the wall and to build it correctly in the first place.

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