Residents to do DIY earth works

RESIDENTS on Belongil’s eroding coastline will be permitted to take emergency works to protect their properties under a State Government draft plan announced.

Belongil home owner John Vaughan, who has had numerous battles with Bryon Shire Council over its controversial planned retreat policy, yesterday welcomed the draft plan.

“A long and expansive legal battle that was brewing over Byron’s controversial draft coastal planning policy will now not be necessary,” he said.

“The State Government’s proposal to give residents the right to build new protective works and to repair existing works on Belongil Beach effectively means that the radical and inequitable retreat policy is heading for the dustbin.”

Under the government’s draft plan landowners will be permitted to temporarily place sandbags on beaches to protect their homes.

It also allows greater scope for privately initiated coastal protection works for the maintenance of seawalls.

Across the state there are about 200 properties at risk from coastal erosion, with a potential damages bill of billions of dollars, Mr Sartor said.

“These reforms will help familles to save their homes whilst also protecting our pristine beaches,” he said.

“These temporary works will provide time for landowners to develop longer term arrangements to minimise erosion impacts.”

Landowners will also be permitted to seek approval to build long-term coastal protection works such as seawalls, provided they pay for them and commit to meet ongoing costs.

In emergency situations, residents will be allowed to take action to protect their properties.

Mr Sartor warned that illegal actions, such as dumping rocks on beaches, that worsen erosion to neighbouring properties and beaches, would attract penalties.

Some parts of the plan were in conflict with Byron’s draft LEP, which forbids beachside residents even applying for protective works, Mr Vaughan said.

He said this meant Byron Council would have to rethink both its long-standing coastal retreat policy and its draft LEP.

Submissions on the State Government’s plan will remain open until April 12.

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