Byron United asks council to act

Byron United has called on Byron Council to abolish the ‘planned retreat’ policy and to work towards supporting and protecting its residents and community, rather than demolishing and abandoning them.

The group’s vice-president, James Lancaster, said the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan was meant to uphold the protection of human life and property.

However, Mr Lancaster said as it stood, the draft policy restricted both the SES and police from performing their duties during storm emergencies and required development approvals for any emergency measures.

He said the draft plan was focused on the demolition of many generations of investment in infrastructure, both public and private, including roads, the rail corridor, family homes, sewer and water mains, and anything located within their 20m ‘buffer’ zone including public amenities and park furniture.

If the plan was adopted, the cost of the ‘retreat’ would be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars in both removed infrastructure and the construction of replacement infrastructure, he said.

 The draft plan clearly stipulated that anything within 20m of the escarpment was to be removed, including ‘any infrastructure or works associated with beach access’.

 The question needed to be asked how removing all works for beach access within 20m of the escarpment was protecting the amenity of our beaches.

The draft ‘planned retreat policy’ affected all residents of the shire who were located within 1km of the beach, yet failed to acknowledge the further repercussions once the ocean has breached fore dunes at Belongil, Suffolk Park, New Brighton or South Golden Beach.

Mr Lancaster said Byron United also expected the council to acknowledge the effect its headland at Byron Bay swimming pool and First Sun Caravan Park was having on residents at Belongil Beach.

He said the proposal for a $10m extension to the council’s protection works at the end of Jonson Street, which went some 150m seaward of the natural escarpment, to enhance the protection of its assets, was an inequitable and hypocritical action to be conducted while the council was issuing demolition orders to some 27-odd homes that suffered the erosion consequences of the headland.

The draft plan needed to be abandoned on environmental, economic and social grounds, none of which had been taken into consideration, he said.

Byron United called for a commonsense, practical solution to dealing with climate change, he said.

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