Residents of Belongil Beach are gearing for a major legal fight over Byron Council's decision to opt for planned retreat to combat coastal erosion. In a statement released before Christmas, the Belongil Progress Association said it had begun the process of briefing lawyers "to ap- peal this manifestly fraudulent administrative decision". The association also warned those council- lors who voted for planned retreat they would be held personally liable should anyone die or be injured because of the decision. It described the council decision as an "ex- treme social planning experiment fuelled by the missionary zeal of Green ideology and the bloated egos of some elderly planning bureau- crats obsessed to leave their mark on Austra- lian planning law." Houses lining the bay at Belongil Beach have been under threat from erosion for many years with only desperate action saving a number of houses several years ago. A spokesperson for the progress association said the council's decision was not a plan to manage coastal hazards, but a plan for the management of people who happened to live near the beach on and zoned for residential occupation since the late 1800s. Byron Mayor, Cr Jan Barham, said it was unfortunate the progress association had "cho- sen to go that way". Cr Barham said all the council had done was select a preferred option to go towards a management plan. She said the retreat option was nothing new. It had been part of the shirewide LEP since 1988. The progress association, said Cr Barham, was "just beating it up".
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