ON EDGE: Ian Astley, manager of the Bluewater by the Sea holiday accommodation, shows how serious the erosion is.
ON EDGE: Ian Astley, manager of the Bluewater by the Sea holiday accommodation, shows how serious the erosion is. Kate O’Neill

Belongil rescue bid stopped by council

A DESPERATE attempt to stop a Belongil Beach property falling into the sea has been blocked by Byron Shire Council.

John and Anne Vaughan's property was one of several along Belongil Beach that was battered by last week's storms, with hundreds of cubic metres of sand lost from their front yard.

Early this week they brought rocks and machinery to the property in a bid to protect it from further erosion, but council compliance officers arrived and ordered work be stopped.

Fellow Belongil resident John Callanan said the council had now gone to the Land and Environment Court seeking a permanent stop-work order. He said the situation was the 'stupidest thing' he had ever witnessed.

“The council is in court wasting ratepayers' money, trying to stop these people from protecting their homes,” Mr Callanan said.

Byron Council, which has a 'planned retreat' policy for coastal erosion, said any works at Belongil posed a potential public safety risk and could harm the environment.

Mr Callanan said measures like rock walls would not only save homes on Belongil, but potentially the entire town: “If the Belongil Spit is lost, then each high tide and storm event will flood the town centre,” he said.

“Last Thursday the north end of the spit was in fact washed over by the sea and Ewingsdale Road was flooded.”

Bluewater by the Sea manager Ian Astley said he felt 'absolutely helpless'. One of his guest- houses is perilously close to the edge of a 10-metre sand cliff that yesterday continued to fall away.

“If we get another storm in the next couple of days and it gets undermined I've lost $5 million worth of property,” he said.

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