Erosion at Byron Bay ... Byron Council last week voted to put its controversial draft Coastal Zone Management Plan on public exhibition.
Erosion at Byron Bay ... Byron Council last week voted to put its controversial draft Coastal Zone Management Plan on public exhibition.

Coastal plan to go on display

Despite last-minute pleas for it to be scrapped, Byron Council last week voted to put its controversial draft Coastal Zone Management Plan on public exhibition.

Mayor Cr Jan Barham said that over many years the council had considered every option available for dealing with coastal management in the shire and it had all been narrowed down to the recommendations in the draft plan.

While admitting the plan wasn’t perfect, Cr Barham, said it was ‘pretty good’.

It wasn’t a description backed by Byron United vice-president, James Lancaster, who told councillors during a public access session that the whole draft plan should be scrapped and a new plan developed in collaboration with the State and Federal governments.

Mr Lancaster said Byron United supported the recent call from both the Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water (DECCW) and the Department of Planning to scrap the ‘planned retreat’ policy from the plan.

He asked where people would retreat to if they had to, and would the council have to move the whole of Byron Bay.

The draft plan failed to address the management of council-owned land property at Belongil Beach and also failed to recognise the fundamental rights of land owners to protect their property, Mr Lancaster said.

Mr Lancaster said a new ‘realistic’ coastal management plan was necessary and must be produced with the involvement of all stakeholders.

He said it must address the long-term planning effects of the loss of the coastline and potentially the Byron Bay township should Belongil Beach be lost.

Belongil Beach home owner, John Vaughan, said the draft plan was a ‘disaster’.

Mr Vaughan said the draft plan contained ‘glaring errors’ and it wasn’t ready for public exhibition.

He said the council had failed to deal with the impact on Belongil Beach of the groyne at the Main Beach car park in the draft plan.

Cr Ross Tucker said he supported the idea of the draft plan going on public exhibition, but believed it to be ‘terribly deficient’.

Cr Tucker said submissions from people who were most affected must be taken into account.

The council’s planning director, Ray Darney, said that among other things, the draft CZMP aimed to simplify the existing development controls through providing for a uniform 20m trigger distance for relocation to all relevant existing and future development in areas of coastal hazard, subject to certain conditions and establishing two coastal planning precincts for immediate and 100-year planning horizons, with clear planning and building requirements for future development.

He said the draft plan also aimed to:

Ensure preservation and management of public access to beaches. 

Encourage community participation in coastal management initiatives such as dune management. 

Ensure appropriate management of sensitive cultural sites.
 
Guide the responsible management of the coastline from an ecological, social and economic perspective. 

Establish a uniform 20m, development-free buffer between the erosion escarpment and human settlement. 

Simplify the existing development controls through providing for a uniform 20m trigger distance for relocation to all relevant existing and future development in areas of coastal hazard, subject to certain conditions and establishing two coastal planning precincts for immediate and 100-year planning horizon, with clear planning and building requirements for future development.

Provide an emergency action plan to explain the council’s responsibilities and actions in the event of coastal emergency.

He said the draft CZMP identified management actions, timeframes and costs.

Prior to reaching this stage, the council had also completed a Coastline Values Study (2000), Coastline Hazard Definition Study (2000) and the Coastline Management Study (2004). 

 At last week’s meeting, Cr Barham promised a ‘very open’ public debate during the public exhibition period which runs from October 22 to December 22.

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