Byron Council staff member Catherine Knight’s presentation to the 2015 NSW Council Conference shows how our coastal management has been working well – that was before we decided to revoke 30 years of sensible management in the latest Coastal Zone Management Plan. See the presentation here: nsw_coastal_conference_2015_-_part_j_presentation (1)
The ‘Gold Coastification’ of Byron Bay has begun. This may be the ruin of our world famous surf beaches and lifestyles.
The latest offensive is the recommendation in Council’s Coastal Zone Management Plan for yet another rock wall at Belongil, to be followed by rock groynes – rock walls that stick out at an angle onto the beach. Then sand pumping will be required to replace the sand that will be lost because of the rock structures. And we ratepayers are expected to pay to destroy the beaches we love! Not just as a one-off payment but forever at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. ROCK WALLS INEVITABLY CAUSE A LOSS OF SAND WHERE THEY ARE INSTALLED. They alter beaches and surf breaks. You only have to look at the way the sand is gone in front of the rocks at Main Beach and at Belongil to see that.
There are plenty of studies and articles that explain what happens when you put rock walls in to stop coastal erosion.
The big plan to engineer our beaches is all on Council’s web page: ‘Coastal Hazard Management Study for the Byron Bay Embayment’. It should be noted that the Office of Environment and Heritage looked at the costings in the study and considered that the stated cost of planned retreat (Council’s policy for the last 29 years) was substantially overstated (presumably to make the other options look better.) The OEH offered to do a Cost Benefit Analysis for Council but the offer was refused. We have the right to a proper CBA before our money is spent!
The IBAS (Interim Beach Access Stabilisation), aka ‘interim’ rock wall wall was constructed last year at Belongil Beach. This decision was made with NO public consultation, no open tendering for the contract, against common sense, against environmental and engineering advice at local and state levels.
That rock wall is allegedly ‘temporary’ and has cost at least $1.2 million. Additonally, it didn’t survive the recent East Coast Low, with rocks and polythene mesh strewn all over the sand – dangerous to people and marine life – and the alleged beach “access” stairs are closed for safety reasons.
That rock wall is only just the beginning! Next comes the 1.06 km rock wall proposed in the CZMP and later rock groynes and sand nourishment. The cost of this will be more than $50 million just to get it started.
And who knows what damage to our surf breaks will result from interfering with the natural movement of the sand? This could be the beginning of the end for Byron’s famous surf breaks and beautiful beaches.
Not only Byron Bay is affected! Other parts of the Shire are in low-lying areas too. Belongil works set an expensive precedent. We interfere with the processes that create our beaches even though we don’t understand how it all works. Byron Shire’s beaches are the MOST important feature of our Shire. If we destroy our beaches, then we destroy our livelihoods and our all important tourism industry.