Council ignores community concerns

THE Byron Shire Council yesterday voted to adopt its draft coastal zone management plan (CZMP).

The move, which was opposed by councillors Diane Woods and Ross Tucker, is sure to anger many property owners along the Byron foreshore, because it is a further step to enshrining the controversial policy of ‘planned retreat’ in law.

The draft plan, which was on public exhibition between October and December last year, received 654 submissions from 622 people, the majority of them saying they believed the strategies proposed would cause unacceptable adverse impacts on the shire.

But the council stated its staff had ‘assessed all the submissions and provided advice against many of the comments and the issues raised’.

Cr Tucker asked what the point of a public exhibition was if the council was going to ignore the significant majority.

Cr Woods said she was concerned at a possible waste of money in finalising a plan that would not be supported by the State Government.

Council’s head of planning, Ray Darney, said if the State wanted to make changes, they could be incorporated in the plan.

Beachside home owner John Vaughan spoke to the meeting as a representative of the Belongil Progress Association.

He accused the council of failing to consider the vast majority of submissions opposed to the retreat policy.

Mr Vaughan also said the Arakwal people were against retreat – a claim mayor Jan Barham labelled ‘misinformation’.

Mr Vaughan was referring to a management study adopted by council in 2004 which states: “In discussing the various options the retreat strategy was considered by the Arakwal representative to be most detrimental in that it would result in the loss of sites along the foreshore.”

The CZMP plan will be sent to the State Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, Frank Sartor, for review and approval.

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