A DECISION by the Office of Environment and Heritage to withdraw funding for the proposed beach works at Belongil has put the future of the project in jeopardy.
Instead of going to the Byron Shire Council’s October 30 meeting looking to take the project from the design phase to construction, the topic of alternative funding will now need to be considered, Council’s director of infrastructure services Phil Holloway said.
“This [funding] could come from either property owners or from Council general funds and was yet to be decided,” he said.
From last year the office had supported a funding arrangement seeing them match council’s contribution on a dollar-for-dollar basis for a $300,000 component of the beach works, he said.
But the office said in a letter to council received on October 8, this funding had been withdrawn.
At issue is the size of the interim beach access works that will help to stabilise the Belongil headland, at risk from sea erosion.
The office said the scale of the works would have a significant impact on the beach areas of Belongil, and was the reason the funding had been pulled.
The council has written to the office to understand what exactly the “withdrawal of funding support,” means for the project Mr Holloway said.
“What we are unclear about is whether it is the whole funding amount or part, as the funding contract has been in progress for over a year,” he said.
Council has not received payment from the office for part of stage one of the project which was submitted on January 29, 2014, he said.
The loss of funding was a “concern” and could stop the interim works proceeding, Simon Richardson Byron Shire mayor said.
Considering the Coastal Zone Management Plan could be completed and ratified by State government by Easter next year, it made sense to hold-off on a project that was only supposed to be an interim solution.
The proposed interim break walls were always too big and the current situation should remain until the plan is finalised he said.
January 14, 2014
August 9, 2013
Nearly seven months have passed since ex tropical cyclone, Oswald wrecked havoc on the Far North Coast beaches, but our coastline is still struggling to recover.
Byron Council is working against the clock, trying to remediate the damage before the storm season rolls around again.
August 7, 2013
BYRON Shire Council general manager Ken Grainger has written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asking for funds to help with severe beach erosion caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald in January.
In his letter, Mr Grainger describes the beach erosion situation in the north of the shire as “critical”, with New Brighton and South
Golden beaches having shown “minimal recovery” since the Oswald event.
“Council is concerned that New Brighton is bordering on qualifying as an erosion hotspot,” Mr Grainger said.
At New Brighton, The Esplanade, he explains, is now only 15m from the erosion escarpment in some places and many residents need the road to access their homes.
The council “may need to consider options such as relocating the road if current conditions persist,” he wrote.
The letter, dated July 18, will be tabled at Thursday’s council meeting and requests the PM assist the council with technical and financial support to prepare a coastal zone management plan (CZMP) for the area.
At Thursday’s meeting councillors will also be updated on other major coastal projects, including the interim rock/hard works at
Belongil; beach scraping at New Brighton, and preparing a draft CZMP for the Byron Bay Embayment.
Legal tide turns on erosion victims
A PhD candidate from the Southern Cross University says beach-front property owners are on shaky ground if they think they have a common-law right to protect their homes.
John Corkill says he’s been reviewing cases dating back to the mid-1800’s from Great Britain and Australia.
He says there is clear evidence that coastal management in the public interest outweighs the rights of private property owners.
“There were always big questions around whether landowners could claim a right to defend against the sea, or compel the Crown to do things to protect their land,” Mr Corkill said.
“It became quite clear to me that there wasn’t a strong footing for this argument.
“Certainly when I looked at cases in Australia, the court has found that these rights don’t exist.
“That’s really the ultimate conclusion of my research, is talking about rights, or old common-law rights from England in the 1800’s is really completely the wrong approach.
“We have a legislative framework that says if you want to build a sea wall you need to get permission from the council and from the Crown, being the NSW Government.”
March 22-23, 2013