Creeping backyards cause for concern
HELEN BROWN cannot understand how some beachfront property owners can watch coastal erosion wash away Belongil property backyards and still actively destroy their last line of defence to prevent the same happening to them.
Byron Shire Council has upped the ante against owners who for two decades have been encroaching on coastal reserve in Suffolk Park.
“For 20 years we've been trying to get some sort of action,” said Ms Brown, a member of Suffolk Park Dune Care.
“It's not something new, but it has escalated. We have numerous examples of people cutting down vegetation, damaging the dunes. In one case they have completely denuded the dunes - we have photographs.
“A resident was caught cutting down all the trees for a better view in preparation for selling the house. She admitted to it, we saw her, but nothing was done.
“If you walk along the beach you can see dunes have been paved, with tables and chairs placed on them.
“They have no concept that the dunes are the last line of defence protecting their properties. And this is not just happening in Suffolk Park; I know of properties in New Brighton where the same thing is happening.”
Byron Shire Council's director of planning, development and environment services, Ray Darney, said the boundary of the Suffolk Park beach reserve, which is in Alcorn Street, would soon be surveyed and permanent markers placed to confirm the extent of illegal encroachments.
This, he said, would put the council in a strong position to take offenders to court as they can identify the exact boundary with certainty.
“Council is concerned about these encroachments, known as 'creeping backyards'. The extension of backyards into the reserve has caused serious degradation of the coastal foreshore and its associated ecosystems,” he said.
Council officers have reported the reserve has suffered from illegal removal of native vegetation, the creation of unapproved beach access tracks and viewing platforms, dumping of garden waste and old tyres, planting of exotic species and landscaping with pavers and bricks.
When the survey is done the council will enforce removal of all encroachments so restoration and regeneration works can be implemented.