The Difference Between Being Right and Winning

When choosing a way forward on the Brunswick Heads holiday parks issue, we’re faced with a tough choice: dig our heels in, possibly prove ourselves legally right and then likely be left with less than what is currently possible. Or, we can drop the need to be right and get more foreshore access, better ramps, and future wins. Welcome to Councillor’s juggling act!  With getting the best outcome for the community front and centre, most of us will soon choose the option that gives us more.

We are negotiating to get at least 3 times wider public access along the foreshore of each park, better and upgraded boat ramps, a carpark and kids playground for the public and the protection of the memorial cypress trees.

We will not satisfy our desire to rally against and halt the state government’s continued land grabs along our coastal areas. Hopefully our state representatives can help us with this. For me, and for the rest of those supporting resolving this issue, we are locals, working on a local problem, searching and soon to gain local benefits.

So, what will we gain?

Ferry Reserve. 

We all want public access along the foreshore and we want it unfettered of tent pegs, sprawling campsites and from feeling we are encroaching on visitors’ set ups. Instead of the required 3 metre setbacks, we will achieve 10 metre setbacks, and in some areas, around 15 metre set backs- 3 to 5 times more than required. This will allow for koala tree planting and a better chance to re-establish a koala corridor. We will also gain a large public space along this foreshore that will allow for playing, hanging out and meeting friends. This too, is not required, but gained due to courageous negotiations.

We want a decent, upgraded public boat launching ramp that has decent parking and doesn’t make the public enter the park and request permission to use it. We will gain this. We will get an upgraded ramp, with plenty of parking and separation from the park.

So- when considering the two main community demands for the Ferry-unfettered public access along the foreshore and a decent, restored and formal boat ramp- we will achieve these.

Massey Greene. 

Like Ferry, we want public access along the foreshore and again, we want it unfettered of tent pegs, sprawling campsites and from feeling we are encroaching on visitors set ups. Instead of the required 3 metre setbacks, we will achieve 10 metre setbacks.  We want Lot 7005 to be for public use. We will achieve this in part, but the gains are better than hoped. Though we won’t get all of this disputed lot for public use, (traditionally used for informal car parking at peak times), we will get a section of it, and in this section, NCHP will create a formal carpark and children playground-both for the public. Thus, though we wont own it, NCHP will provide public uses that saves Council having to pay for and will provide a great public benefit. On balance, I believe this is a reasonable outcome. We will also gain other benefits: a small craft launching ramp will be upgraded and car parking for public use provided. The boat craft that used to block access to the river will be formalised to one side, opening up the Massey Beach once more. Also, the area along the old Tweed st area, next to the Mexican restaurant will finally go back to become a public thoroughfare, landscaped, free of cars and leading directly to the river.

So- when considering the three main community demands for Massey Greene-unfettered public access along the foreshore, a decent, restored and formal boat ramp and public use of Lot 7005- we will achieve most of these.

The Terrace. 

Like Ferry and Massey Greene, we want public access along the foreshore. And we want it unfettered of permanent residents encroachment and from feeling we are encroaching on visitors’ set ups by having to walk through a camp ground to access town or Simpsons creek. We also want the Cypress Pines, planted as memorials to our fallen Brunswick Heads pioneer young men who fell in WW1.

Here, we have some more work to do, but are very close to gaining what we want. We will most likely achieve the 10 metre set back, either along the whole stretch, or the vast majority of it. We will ensure an ecologist report pre-empts any decision as to how best protect the pines, and are hopeful that the proposed 5 protective zone around each cypress pine will help make this happen. We will ensure that more conversations occur between adjacent neighbours, permanent residents, council and NCHP, and an ecologist who will work towards the best way to ensure the sustainability of permanents, and the pines. We can also achieve 10 metre setback- instead of the required 3 metre setbacks.

And finally, being brave enough to negotiate in good faith within the unfair rules of the game before us can gain us all the benefits in Torakina, the Soundshell area, erosion management and creek management and the stretch all the way to the Bowling club, as all these areas are managed by NCHP. Already our ability and courage to negotiate has resulted in the proposed carpark and resultant tree loss at Torakina scrapped. It has also resulted in the proposed and highly unpopular boardwalk new the kids playground scrapped.

The new motion before us moves us closer to a great outcome for the community- including affected neighbours and permanent residents.

Moving forward does not mean we forget or underplay both the struggles endured and injustice suffered. We have been dudded by successive state governments. Both Labor and the Libs/Nats have systematically, deliberately and ruthlessly taken ownership of these areas from council and we have been scrambling to be heard ever since.  I thank all the community members who have fought this fight, for the only reason we are now set to gain more than we would have normally is because we demanded a decent deal solidly and consistently. However, we won’t get everything we deserve. We won’t get our parks back into council hands, we won’t get the old time camping holiday park style back and we won’t ever get acknowledgement of the injustice we suffered.

This is a legacy issue not created by this council, or even the last two councils, but this council finally has the opportunity to get more for the community than is required to be given by the parks operators. This council can establish an ongoing relationship with the operators to bring benefits for not just the parks, but all the river and creek side areas along Brunswick Heads.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Byron Line proposal


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An equitable Pay Parking scheme for Byron Bay

17 August 2015

The Byron Bay pay parking scheme is set to be introduced at a revised $3 per hour and the annual residents’ exemption set at $50 per year.

Centrelink blue cardholders would not incur a fee for the pay parking exemption.

Those who work in town but live outside of Byron Shire, will also be able to apply for a $100 yearly exemption and park on-street and in Council managed car parks.

As an incentive to park outside of the town centre, additional parking will be created in Butler Street Reserve. Clarkes Beach car park, Jonson Street (south of Kingsley Street) and on-street east of Middleton Street will also be capped at $20 for all day car parking or $10 for 4 hours.

Council will also continue to explore how the markets can co-exist with a pay parking scheme in place or identify at least equally appropriate sites within the town centre.

The pay parking scheme would apply between 9am to 6pm on-street in Byron Bay town centre and from 6am to 6pm in Butler Street Reserve.

Mayor Simon Richardson said in listening to public concerns, the revised pay parking scheme has been about finding a balance, knowing that it is impossible to know all the answers of such a scheme before we start and thus, changes and adjustments can and will be made as the reality unfolds.

“It’s been a moving conversation with many different groups over the past twelve months. But one that was necessary to arrive at a scheme that is equitable, aims to change parking behaviour and create a new revenue scheme for Council.

“A $50 exemption, a rise of $25, is pleasingly less than the recent $100 proposal and will allow locals to park about town as per normal, with some additional all day car parks provided,” he said.

Mayor Richardson went on to explain that doing nothing was not appropriate or possible.

“With little state government funding support available for Council to cater for the nearly one million day visitors, we have to raise revenue ourselves.

“Traffic is getting worse and we need to fix our ageing infrastructure throughout the shire.

“Along with reviewing property assets, procurement and becoming more efficient, pay parking is an integral part of our Fit for the Future plan.

“Council needs to look for ways to generate revenue or face the possibility of amalgamation or significant ongoing rate rises for ratepayers.

“Whilst our landscape footprint is that of a small sleepy coastal town, the 1.5 million visitors who arrive each year tell a different story.

“It is only fair that we ask for a contribution from our visitors for the privilege of using the facilities within our beautiful area.

“Not fixing our traffic, parking and infrastructure will be risky for business and turn people away from visiting Byron,” he said.

Mayor Richardson again highlighted that the revised pay parking scheme had significant incentives for visitors to park outside of the town centre.

“Consultation from the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan has shown that locals want a pedestrian friendly town centre and pay parking will help provide the motivation to park at a discounted rate on the outskirts. It will begin the process of making the town better for people to enjoy,” he said.

A parking permit for residents who live within the perimeter of the pay parking area would be issued and allow them to park on their street as per usual.

Mayor Richardson said the pay parking scheme will also consider businesses with multiple vehicles.

“The technology that supports the pay parking machine will allow for the scheme to be adjusted.

“How we pay and the option of payment instalments will also be confirmed following the tender on parking machines.

“Staff will also ensure that impacts to the local primary schools in the town centre for teachers and parents will be minimised,” he said.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Council response to plans to dredge parts of the Brunswick River


No. 1 Matter of Urgency – Dredging works in the Brunswick River Resolved that Council writes to the Minister of Lands and Water, the Hon Niall Blair, seeking a deferment of any dredging works in the Brunswick river until the following questions have been considered and answers provided and that permission to use Council’s boat ramp to launch the dredge vessel will not be granted until support has been gained through Council resolution.

  1. Purpose of Works:
    1. As works haven’t occurred for over 20 years, is work proposed ‘maintenance’ or new?
    2. If considered maintenance, what ongoing maintenance is proposed?
    3. What are estimated ongoing costs to maintain the assumed benefits?
    4. Has the stated purpose to “enable safe boat passage” and “address public safety and environmental risks associated with shallow depths causing vessels to run aground” been assessed and supported by evidence? What are the specific measurable triggers that are being applied? Are there documented reports of any accidents and/or injury as a result of shallow waters? Has there been any effort to implement signage in the river indicating the deep channel areas and speed limits?
    5. Is the area concerned currently un-navigable? Is there evidence of this?
  2. Impacts of Works:
    1. Did the REF consider cumulative impacts of ongoing or recurrent dredging?
    2. What modelling has been used to consider the rate of natural sand replacement, and at what regularity is proposed for the ongoing maintenance.
    3. What documentation exists to support the selection of the three proposed dredging sites?
    4. Have immediate and ongoing impacts on sea grasses been considered?
    5. Are there any potential nearby geomorphic disturbances identified, such as heightened erosion or accretion?
    6. What are the specific measurable triggers that are being applied to effects of works, natural sand replacement processes and environmental disruptions?
    7. Has a cost-benefit analysis been completed that incorporates environmental and social considerations?
  3. Impacts of Works on Fishers and other Users:
    1. What commercial fishing benefits have been identified and what evidence has been produced for justification?
    2. What evidence exists to illustrate any current navigation impediments to commercial fishers due to the current state of the river?
    3. Have impacts of dredging for recreational fisherman been assessed?
    4. What assessment has been conducted, and evidence provided, to verify the claimed benefits for local economies and tourism industries?
    5. Does this assessment include possible negative impacts due to ecological and marine disturbance?
  4. Wider support for Works:
    1. Does OEH support the work and agree with the necessity?
    2. Does Marine Parks support the work and agree with the necessity? Does Marine Parks have concerns and have these concerns been investigated? What are the strategies being put in place to overcome articulated areas of concerns?
    3. Has the local Tourism organisation been consulted? Do they agree with the stated need for the dredging?
    4. Has the REF been exhibited for public comment?
    5. Has community sentiment been assessed and considered supportive of the proposed works and the needs as stated of them?
    6. Is the Minister satisfied with the level of community consultation and community support?(Richardson/Spooner)

The motion was put to the vote and declared carried.

Crs Cubis and Woods voted against the motion.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Zero Emissions Byron project begins

Forum seeks practical ways to reduce carbon emissions

The Echo

Byron mayor Simon Richardson and Beyond Zero Emissions CEO, Dr Stephen Bygrave at Sunday's forum. Photo Hans Lovejoy

Hans Lovejoy

While Australian governments are undermining the renewable-energy sector, there’s positive action from local not-for-profit groups and Byron Shire Council.

And to facilitate a unified plan of reducing fossil-fuel emissions, not-for-profit research and education organisation Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) held a workshop with mayor Simon Richardson at Cavanbah (the Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex) on Sunday.

BZE CEO, Dr Stephen Bygrave, told The Echo the forum was aimed at creating plans which could reduce emissions across five sectors of the economy: energy, buildings, land use, transport and waste.

‘We are bringing council and all the community groups that are already doing the work under one umbrella, and are setting out a strategy on how we can achieve zero emissions.’

He says council’s intention to take Byron Shire to a zero-emissions economy over the next ten years creates an opportunity to lead, ‘and then others will follow.’

The group of around 50 also discussed ways of encouraging high-end energy users to become sustainable.

They include developers vying for new housing estates, energy providers and Rous Water, the local utility that provides several north coast councils with water.


Emerging micro-grid technology was also explained, whereby small networks of houses/businesses that are producing excessive solar power can feed into the grid to another network which may be experiencing extended cloudy weather conditions.

Siemens representative Warner Priest was also at the meeting, and told The Echo his company has a keen interest in micro-grid technology.

The next step, Dr Bygrave says, is to establish working groups for the five sectors.

‘We don’t want it to be overly bureaucratic – we want to provide enough structure and guidance so the community groups can get on with what they do best.’

‘We will develop a common action plan template for each group, and a baseline of emissions will be established from each group, from each sector.


‘After that, we’ll identity actions with emission reductions associated with each of those actions.’

Mayor Richardson was enthused by the chance of the five sectors becoming unified, which could lead to funding opportunities.

‘The emissions reduction fund, while aimed at the big players, could be applied for if all sectors of the community were behind it. There’s $1.5 billion in funding available.’

1 Response to “Forum seeks practical ways to reduce carbon emissions”

  1.  Seb says:

    I would suggest that a large area of the deforested areas if put under giant bamboo plantation would be a great renewable asset.

    Moso Bamboo grows up to 1 meter per day, a huge carbon sink that can be harvested for building, textiles, bio fuel & pulp and paper goods. It won’t even need to be grown in agricultural areas.

    An amazing opportunity exists to do this – and just as a bonus – consumes a vast quantity of C02, it’s plant food.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New look for Bangalow Weir revealed

9-2721962-lis170315bangalowwier02_t460THE Bangalow Weir remediation is getting closer with the delivery of donated rocks, whilst design drawings and environmental approvals are finalised.

Byron Shire Council’s infrastructure services director Phil Holloway said the latest concept drawing of the remediation works has also recently been completed.

“In working with the community we are proposing to keep key elements of the Bangalow Weir such as old swimming platform, and use the rocks to reinforce the side walls and create rock pools that support fish habitat,” he said.

Mayor Simon Richardson said the Bangalow Weir has strong heritage, social and environmental values and the local community is understandably very connected and passionate about the site.

“It’s well recorded as being a focal point for Bangalow locals. It’s a place that many have swum, picnicked or even married,” Cr Richardson said.

“The challenge has been how we maintain the cultural and environmental needs of the failing piece of infrastructure to ensure its longevity for many more years for the community to enjoy.

“The concept design encourages locals and visitors to be part of the past and connect with the natural environment. We’re keen to hear what the community thinks.”

Bangalow Weir concept drawing Photo Contributed

Mayor Richardson also thanked Bangalow Parklands for their ongoing support and a local building project for the donated rocks.

“Bangalow has a strong sense of community and it is very rewarding when Council is able to partner with a local group to deliver a positive community outcome,” he said.

Landscape drawings of the proposed works will be on display at a Community Information session held by the Bangalow Parklands Team on Sunday March 22, 2.30-4pm, at All Souls Anglican Church Hall.

The day is also the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Bangalow creek swimming pool.

As well as sharing a giant birthday cake for the weir, the occasion will provide an opportunity for the Bangalow community to be updated on progress regarding repairs to the weir wall and the evolving plans for the bandstand.

Plus, include a slide show of the weir through the ages, and there will be a display of the current Masterplan for the Parklands, including various elements which will emerge over time.

Mr Holloway said once all approvals have been received, Council will source additional grant funding to supplement the $60,000 already allocated to the project.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Vision Of The Byron We Are Creating

Byron will be a place where our natural environment continues to flourish and our shire is self-sustaining with global leading waste and water management and with our houses and businesses, towns and villages powered by cooperatively run renewable energy sources.

It will be a place where people are the focus within towns and villages; where we can meet in informal and creative public spaces, surrounded by art and playful areas. A Shire where our development is well planned and well managed. Growth utilises the rail corridor, world’s best design and appropriate focus on maintaining our assets.

It will be a place where the community continues to be active and brash, have integrity, vibrancy and a progressive commitment to caring for each other, our local environment and the planet. It is an inclusive and innovative community, inspired by group of leaders who are actively producing great initiatives and promoting our community with positive influence. It will be a community that is never afraid to say no to development that takes from us and always has the courage to yes to development that adds to us.

It will be a place we are open to sharing our place with the world; where tourism adds to who we are, sitting beside globally significant creative, research, agricultural, innovation and education industries. A place where are our kids can stay and have meaningful and substantial careers or leave and share their expertise gained here with the world.

It will be a place where the Council sets the example for all organisations and businesses, having, at its heart, a 4P bottom line: People, Planet, Purpose and then Profit.

It will be a place where we move sustainability, utilising the rail corridor for park and ride and public transport uses and to connect our towns and villages.

It will achieve all this due to financial sustainability, and a commitment to world’s best practice, risk taking, innovation, creativity.

This vision of what we are creating in Byron is underpinned by a spirit filled with wonder, humility and respect for each other, our place and our world.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rail costings put govt study into doubt

← Byron Echo, Local News | December 16, 2014 | by Hans Lovejoy

The cost to establish a privately owned diesel rail shuttle service from Byron Bay’s Arts and Industry Estate into town has put the credibility of a $2m government-funded rail study into question.

At around $300,000 per kilometre, the 3.4 km railway project planned by the North Byron Beach Resort will come in just under $1m, according to manager Jeremy Holmes.

He told The Echo that only one in seven sleepers need replacing, along with repairs to the Belongil Creek bridge, platform construction and upgrades to level crossings at Kendall and Shirley Streets. And a 100-seater two-car currently being restored is, ‘Technically not light rail, but is regarded as lighter than normal rail,’ he said. Ongoing costs would be subsidised by a passenger fare in the order of $3 for a one-way journey, according to the resort’s website.

No government analysis

So what does the 2013 government-funded Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study say about railcar shuttle costings and viability?

While no detailed analysis of light rail or rail shuttle was undertaken, consultants Arup claimed that the estimated construction cost to ‘reinstate rail line to a level suitable for XPT services’ from Mullumbimby to Byron Bay would be $202,326,700.

Light rail and rail shuttle costings were not analysed, according to the report, because, ‘It has also been recognised that a rail commuter service (either light or heavy rail) would not be viable without a significant level of ongoing government subsidy’ [page 8]. Additionally the report concluded, ‘Light rail provides fewer transport benefits than heavy rail’ [page 67].

But those comments are at odds with findings from a 2004 Tweed Shire Council study which compared XPT (heavy rail) and railcar shuttle. Included in the Arup report, it claimed railcar shuttle could be ‘implemented with little or no impact to current main line services.’

Overall, the Tweed Council report found it provides a ‘good rail service at frequencies that are relevant to customers’, despite the assets ‘being in poor condition’.

The Echo asked MP Don Page (Nationals) if he was concerned with the lack of costing analysis for rail shuttle in the rail report, and whether it could result in skewing poor public transport outcomes.

He replied that the section of rail between town and the North Byron Resort is in fairly good shape.

‘It’s much better than in other places including through the Tyagarah area, which is in very bad shape.

‘The costings in the transport study were only one factor which led to the conclusion that any combination of trains, regardless of cost, would not meet the public transport needs of the northern rivers region.

‘Rail not being able to serve two of the three largest populated centres (Ballina and Tweed) was a major reason trains were ruled out, as was likely patronage levels.

‘The original transport study was not skewed towards a rail trail. The rail trail proposal was subject to a separate study later on which said if trains aren’t viable at this point in time, rail trail is a good option.’

Byron Council’s position

And with the most recent government-funded rail trail study supporting the removal of the tracks, what is Byron Shire Council’s position?

At the October 9, 2014 Council meeting, Cr Ibrahim put forward a contentious motion that saw Council writing to minister Don Page ‘fully supporting’ the Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) project, despite it being far from united; the vote was 5–4.

But the motion also says, ‘In the preparation of the concept plan and design for the rail trail, considerations of multiple uses such as that already approved for the North Beach development [should] be incorporated.’


Cr Ibrahim told The Echo the motion was about ‘securing regional investment’, referring to the promise of $75m from the government and the recent rail trail study.

‘I had it on good advice that the northern rivers was in a good position to secure a massive investment in regional tourism, the precise sort of tourism that our own strategy is aiming for.

‘I campaigned for the rail trail and many people I spoke to during the campaign told me that the rail trail was a no- brainer, and that trains would never come back for the simple reason that hardly anyone would catch them.

‘It was time for a resolution just about the rail trail so we could join our [Council] neighbours in supporting the project.’

No accurate information

But mayor Simon Richardson told The Echo that, ‘The whole rail corridor debate has been underpinned by a lack of accurate information and a lack of goodwill from protagonists to find a solution for the good of all the community.’

‘When thinking about the most important piece of infrastructure we have in the shire, isn’t it rational to do our due diligence and look at all the options, cost and design them, and then choose the best option?

‘I applaud the efforts of NRRT to turn a disused piece of infrastructure into something that may be used by ten per cent of residents and ten per cent of visitors. Ten per cent is better than zero per cent. But is that the best Byron can get?

‘Shouldn’t we expect that costings be provided about services that may be used by the other 90 per cent?’

‘With some of the TOOT leadership not wanting to have a trackless transport service costed even if it meant a light rail service would be costed also, and the NRRT leadership not wanting their stated belief of a rail-based service alongside a rail trail to be costed either, the opportunity to get out of the trenches and to shake hands rather than fists, for the good of all the community, has been lost.’

The mayor added the only winners would be the state government, as they could ‘finally kill the albatross of broken public transport promises that has been hanging around their necks.’

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tenterfield Council lend support to gay marriage proposal

Oct. 1, 2014, 2 p.m.
COUNCIL have taken a bold step and voted in favour of supporting a same-sex marriage equality proclamation that will be presented to the Prime Minister.

It was a contentious topic between the councillors in attendance at last Wednesday’s meeting with the vote eventually swinging five to four in favour of the recommendation.

A request had come from Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson to support the same-sex marriage equality proclamation.

Mr Richardson said denying same sex couples equal rights to marry was discriminatory and a violation of basic human rights.

“We will be collecting Marriage Equality Proclamations from local government areas across Australia, with the intent of presenting these to the Prime Minister.

“We believe our elected leaders have a responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens,” he said.

General manager Lotta Jackson reminded councillors before their vote that “marriage is not a religious ceremony” and council were a “secular organisation”.

“Access and equity is very key in local government – I’m sure the Byron Shire did not only send this to us,” Ms Jackson said.

Councillor Blair Maxwell spoke strongly on supporting the liberties of all citizens.

“This is a very serious discussion – I would expect we provide those rights of equity to everyone.

“I fear if we don’t support this we would not be following the rules set down in our policies,” he said.

The vote has stirred controversy with some questioning the need for the discussion in a local government forum.

Pastor Jim Seymour from Tenterfield’s Presbyterian Church Family sent a letter to each councillor prior to the vote erring them on the side of caution.

“I believe that any councillor found on the side of the ledger supporting such an abominable position after votes have been counted, is exposing themselves to an uncertain future,” Mr Seymour said.

Cr Mary Leahy voted in favour of the proclamation but said she felt it was a community issue that needed to be treated as such by holding a shire-wide vote.

“I don’t know the feeling in our shire and I feel this would be a divisive issue.

“This shire however, for a rural one, is quite remarkable in its acceptance of same-sex couples.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments