Compensation questions over Belongil

Laurie Lynch wonders just how much money the community is going to have pay in compensation if residents at Belongil Beach have to demolish or relocate their homes due to Byron Shire Council’s policy on coastal erosion.

A Belongil resident since 1989, Mr Lynch said that 25 homes had been identified as being within 20 metres of the erosion escarpment.

Thirteen of those had conditions attached to their development consent which would require their relocation or demolition in the ‘at risk’ zone.

Mr Lynch said the council’s plan to make residents comply with the conditions or consent should any structures be found to be at immediate risk of further erosion was a drastic measure.

“These conditions mean that landowners would have to demolish their properties or relocate them,” Mr Lynch said.

 “I would like to know who is driving this agenda of relocation or demolition and I do believe it’s the Byron Mayor, Jan Barham.

“Why is she so motivated to have to keep driving this issue forward when there’s never really been an opportunity for people to discuss the issues?

“Why can’t we wait until the new draft Coastal Zone Management Plan has gone out so the community can have a chance to look at it?”

Byron Council voted last week to proceed with a ground truth survey of Belongil Beach buildings to determine whether they fall within an erosion risk area.

The council says it’s in the interests of the whole community to identify buildings that could be a public safety risk as the coastline erodes.

Cr Barham said she wanted an open dialogue with the residents at Belongil.

She said that when the updated survey work was complete, then all residents would be informed of the results.

“Council has to cover itself in terms of liability,” Cr Barham said.

 Byron United and a number of community groups have called on council to hold an emergency community consultation meeting.

“This is not just something affecting Belongil residents, it affects the whole community and township of Byron Bay,” president Ed Ahern said.

He said the community deserved to be informed and consulted.

“The tragedy at Belongil is that it is the council’s rock works at Main Beach that are substantially contributing to the erosion and now the council wants the residents to pay the price,” he said.

“It is unacceptable management to let people’s homes wash away, the beach to wash away and the sand dunes to wash away.”

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