Belongil rock wall set in stone after tense council meeting
BELONGIL Beach looks set to get a rock wall after a rescission motion aimed at halting construction was yesterday voted down at an extraordinary meeting of Byron Shire Council.
Debate was acrimonious with several councillors engaging in verbal stoushes with members of the public gallery.
Tempers also frayed after Councillor Duncan Dey attempted to bring on the vote before Councillors Cubis and Ibrahim were in the chamber.
Crs Ibrahim, Cubis, Woods, Wanchap and Hunter voted against the rescission motion leaving standing the decision to spend almost $1.2 million on Interim Beach Access Stabilisation at Manfred Street.
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The rescission motion was supported by Crs Dey, Richardson, Cameron and Spooner who questioned the wisdom of spending ratepayers' money ahead of the Coastal Zone Management Plan due next April.
Cr Dey also raised concerns that the construction contract was let within 24 hours of last month's council meeting to Hardings Earthmoving, a company prosecuted for breaching environmental laws in 2011 after it was caught dumping waste on private land.
Cr Ibrahim said he believed that there was no new information presented at the meeting that would have led him to change his vote.
He also rejected claims by other councillors the rock wall was being built to protect land values at Belongil.
"A storm could come tomorrow...and there would be (adverse effects) on the people who currently live there lawfully as well as the huge costs to council in terms of the emergency procedures that would have to be instigated," he said.
"I firmly believe that even with planned retreat it would be many years, perhaps up to 10 years, before it's completed and to continue to prop up the use of (Geo Bags) just makes no economic sense."
Cr Dey said he was not surprised by yesterday's vote.
"This decision certainly benefits a small group but at the cost of the rest of the shire," he said.
"We do not have the million dollars to throw at this pet project (at Belongil beach) in particular because it pre-empts a planning process (for the CZMP) that will be finished in a year's time."