BATTLE AHEAD: Long-time Belongil developer Terry Ahern says Byron Shire Council’s decision will end up in court.
BATTLE AHEAD: Long-time Belongil developer Terry Ahern says Byron Shire Council’s decision will end up in court. Cathy Adams

Erosion battle will end in court

A VETEREN Belongil developer says Byron Council's move to ensure buildings within the beach-front erosion zone are relocated or demolished will end up in court.

Byron Shire councillors voted this week to carry out a ground-based survey of Belongil Beach buildings to determine whether they fall within an erosion risk area.

The survey, which will be conducted before the end of the year, will verify the results of a preliminary survey which found that 25 structures were within 20 metres of the erosion escarpment.

Of those, council says 13 have conditions attached to their development consent which would require their relocation or demolition in the 'at risk' zone.

Byron Council says it is in the interests of the whole community to identify buildings that could be a public safety risk as the coastline erodes.

But Belongil developer Terry Ahern says the council is using the issue to set a state-wide precedent and effectively write the book on climate change responses.

And he says it won't work.

“I believe that if Council proceeds with its pig-headed or bloody-minded policy to remove the suburb it can only really end in Supreme Court action or Land and Environment Court action,” Mr Ahern said.

“There's nothing wrong with their policy. But ultimately, when you're threatening people with demolition, what can you do but go to court?

“Belongil's a suburb. It has a village atmosphere. It's really the demolition of a suburb to prove a point.”

Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham is standing her ground.

“For those people who built and accepted approvals with conditions placed on them, this will stand up in court,” she said.

“We have to protect the whole community's interests by doing this.

“Some of them have buildings without approvals - there's sheds, there's patios that may be at risk and then cause potential risk to the people on the beach.”

Cr Barham said she wanted an open dialogue with the residents and ratepayers at Belongil and that the council would use the opportunity to inform them of survey results, risks, as well as their obligations under their development consents.



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