**Comments on the draft CZMP – download this detailed analysis by Dailan Pugh, BRG’s representative on the CZMP Project Reference Group.
What’s a CZMP and why do we need one?
A Coastal Zone Management Plan is a plan prepared by Council that identifies how we will manage coastal issues into the future – notably the erosion and receding of our coastline in response to seas rising as a result of climate change The Minister has to approve a CZMP. When the exhibition period closes on 14 June, Council intends to send it by 30 June for Ministerial approval.
Why the hurry to rush through this CZMP?
Five Councillors are trying to get a rock wall through before Council elections in September because the defection of one councillor has given them a majority and opportunity to overturn the 30-year policy of planned retreat that the majority of the community has always supported. The NSW government is introducing a new Coastal Management Act later this year. We should be waiting until that is settled before making contradictory plans.
How can I have my say? It is vital that residents get involved. Read what is on this page, our other pages and on Council’s website and understand what is going on in your Shire with your money and act to defend our beaches.
- Make a submission to Council before 14 June: email@example.com
- Copy your submission to: Planning Minister Rob Stokes: firstname.lastname@example.org and Crown Lands Minister Niall Blair email@example.com
What are the main features of this CZMP?
Its main recommendation is a 1.06 km rock wall along Belongil Beach in front of the houses as per the picture above.
- Council says they intend to later construct 4 groynes along the beach to trap sand, though they have been unable to identify a source for the millions of tonnes of sand needed to fill the groynes.
Beach in Southampton with groynes
- Council has refused to identify and assess the resultant erosion to the north-west on the Belongil spit, Belongil estuary, Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve, endangered littoral rainforest, nationally significant shorebird nesting and roosting area, or the Cape Byron Marine Park.
- Belongil estuary is essential for marine ecosystem functioning and as a roosting, nesting and feeding area for a plethora of threatened and migratory seabirds, shorebirds and waterbirds.
- Council’s plan shortens the planning timeframe from 100 years down to 34 years and then down to 15 years in a cynical attempt to avoid having to consider and assess the long-term environmental impacts and financial costs of their proposal.
- They have no plan beyond this wall except to take a look at it in 15 years and see what to do next.They know that by that time the beach and Belongil Spit will have mostly been eroded away.
- Choosing to sacrifice an environmentally sensitive area is a gross dereliction of the responsibilities of Council.
Belongil at high tide Feb 2013 – no sand in front of rock wall – over time the sand will be completely gone.
What is wrong with rock walls?
Rock walls stop the beach retreating inland in response to rising seas and reflect wave energy, which stirs up the sand in front of the rocks at at their end that is then carried out into the deep water and away, thus accelerating the erosion of beaches. The existing ad-hoc seawalls are already causing significant impacts that are rapidly escalating.
By causing loss of the beach in front of, and to their north, the wall will have a significant impact on Byron tourism and beach users. This section of Belongil Beach is identified as generating $20 million each year in tourism revenue.
‘Elements’ resort is suffering increased erosion due to the existing walls and once Council assumes responsibility for the walls they will take on liability for damage to property caused by the intensified erosion effects of the wall.
What does that mean for the future?
If this goes ahead, over the next couple of decades we will lose Belongil Beach completely. Byron would become like Noosa, Currumbin and other places where there has been loss of beach and it has to be constantly maintained by pumping — at huge financial cost to ratepayers and immeasurable cost to our other beaches, famous surf breaks and the tourism industry.
The plan creates a massive long term multi-million dollar financial liability for compensation and ongoing maintenance costs. Ratepayers will be paying for this forever.
Sand pumping at Currumbin. If we have rock walls we will lose sand and the only way to restore it is bring it in – but from where?