Coast plan passed for exhibition

DESPITE last-minute pleas for it to be scrapped, Byron Shire Council yesterday voted to put its controversial draft Coastal Zone Management Plan on public exhibition.

Mayor Jan Barham said over many years the council had considered every option available for dealing with coastal management in the shire and it had all been narrowed down to the recommendations in the draft plan.

While admitting the plan wasn't perfect, Cr Barham, said it was 'pretty good'.

It wasn't a description backed by Byron United vice-president James Lancaster, who told councillors during a public access session the whole draft plan should be scrapped and a new plan developed in collaboration with the State and Federal governments.

Mr Lancaster said Byron United supported the recent call from the Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water and the Department of Planning to scrap the 'planned retreat' policy from the plan.

He asked where people would retreat to if they had to, and would the council have to move the whole of Byron Bay.

He said the plan failed to address the management of council-owned property at Belongil Beach and failed to recognise fundamental rights of landowners to protect their property.

A new 'realistic' coastal management plan was necessary and must involve all stakeholders, he said.

Mr Lancaster said it must address the long-term planning effects of the loss of the coastline and potentially the Byron Bay township should Belongil Beach be lost.

Belongil Beach home owner, John Vaughan, said the draft plan was 'a disaster', had 'glaring errors' and wasn't ready for public exhibition.

Cr Barham promised a 'very open' public debate during the public exhibition period, which runs from October 22 to December 22.

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