Bay locals worry on beach future

A MIXED group of Byron Bay residents gathered yesterday to demand clarity from Byron Shire Council on its intentions for properties along the beachfront.

Renters, ratepayers and members of Byron United, Belongil Progressive Association, and Byron Preservation Association were among the 25 people angry and fearful that their homes and businesses were being threatened.

The demand followed confusion over the council's position on planned retreat and the demolition of coastal properties, Byron United vice-president James Lancaster said.

Mayor Jan Barham said at the weekend the council had no intention of demolishing homes, but Mr Lancaster said this contradicted earlier policy statements.

“The community needs to be told whether she has changed her position or whether this was just disinformation on a national scale,” he said.

He also said the issue had been effectively hijacked by politicians pushing their own agenda.

“We also need to know whether the 20m safety zone that is being mentioned includes demolition of the surf club, the Beach Cafe and the Arakwal houses along the beach,” he said.

“We are going to make a formal request to council for a meeting in Byron Bay, away from the ivory tower of Mullumbimby, calling upon it to present to the community its policy on planned retreat and its impact on the public, as well as private assets along the coast.”

The council's planning director Ray Darney said the council was always willing to discuss important issues with residents, and it would meet any group for talks.

Planned retreat, he said, had been a policy since 1988.

A coastal management draft will be considered by council soon, he said.

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