THE State Government’s controversial Coastal Erosion Bill was on the agenda when Climate Change and Environment Minister Frank Sartor met with Byron Bay residents and mayor Jan Barham in the town on Thursday.

He also met with Ballina Shire Council officials to discuss erosion ‘hot spots’ at Lennox Head.

The visit was part of Mr Sartor’s work to revamp the Bill.

He withdrew the Bill from the last session of Parliament, promising to do more consultation and get it right.

In the past Cr Barham has been highy critical of the Coastal Erosion Bill.

But she praised Mr Sartor for visiting Belongil and meeting with residents, council staff and Ballina MP Don Page.

“I really appreciate the effort that he made in coming here,” Cr Barham said.

“He asked lots of questions and he understands our concerns. I am trying not to get my hopes up about the changes he may make to the Bill.

“But it is at least gratifying to have a Minister who wants to be informed.

“We might still end up disagreeing, but at least we’ve been heard.”

Mr Page agreed the Minister was taking the right approach.

“He had a bit of a look around, but he was mostly here to seek feedback on the Bill,” he said.

“His approach is quite sensible, but there are still issues that need to be dealt with.”

Opposition spokeswoman on climate change and environment, Catherine Cusack, said people should have a right to defend their properties against the effects of coastal erosion.

“People are right to be scared,” she said.

“We don’t have a lot of time. We have to adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Sartor said he came to the North Coast to inspect identified erosion risk sites, and to discuss local management approaches and concerns.

“The discussions revolved around immediate and longer-term risks in each area ... along with considerations of whether the Bill would provide better conditions for addressing erosion,” she said.

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