Council in court over Belongil Beach erosion

The serious erosion in front of John Vaughan’s Belongil Beach home.
The serious erosion in front of John Vaughan’s Belongil Beach home.
In the wake of the recent damaging erosion to beaches, the Land Environment Court last Friday issued an interim injunction against Belongil Beach home owner, John Vaughan, preventing the further dumping of rocks on to the beach.

Byron Council’s general manager Graeme Faulkner said the ruling restrained Mr Vaughan from placing “rock or other material" on Manfred Street or his property to "form or construct erosion protection works or other works.”

The court hearing arose from a stop-work order issued by the council to Mr Vaughan when it was ascertained he was about to dump rocks on to Belongil Beach.

Mr Vaughan lost a substantial amount of his land during the storms and there is now about a five to six metre drop to the beach.

He has previously told the Byron News that the council-built groyne at the Main Beach car park was the cause of the Belongil erosion problem, with the groyne ‘realigning’ the coastline.

Mr Faulkner said Mr Vaughan had since commenced proceedings against the council.

“The landowner, having now been prevented by the court from using rock for the time being, is seeking permission to have repair and maintenance works done to geotextile sand bags in front of their property and Manfred Street,” he said.

A four day hearing is due to start in the Land and Environment Court on Monday.

The Belongil spit area is subject to the council’s ‘planned retreat’ strategy which was adopted at the inception of the shirewide Local Environmental Plan in 1988.

“It mandates that within certain distances of the erosion escarpment, development is meant to be relocatable so that as erosion moves landward the development can be removed,” Mr Faulkner said.

“Rather than prevent all development at all times, planned retreat allows for the limited use of land until it is threatened by coastal hazards such as erosion.

“Where it applies, the planned retreat management strategy requires that, in approved development, the consent only remains valid while a beach erosion escarpment does not encroach within a set distance from a development.

“If the erosion escarpment encroaches within a set distance from a development approved under the planned retreat, the development must cease and be removed from the immediate hazard area.”

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