Mayor hits back at erosion critic

BYRON Shire mayor Jan Barham has hit back at claims her council cannot resolve coastal erosion issues with Belongil landowners because it is too ideologically entrenched.

Lennox Head-based State Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack made the comments this week, saying the council had ‘run a political view as a legal case against their own residents’.

“They will never engage in a constructive process to solve the problem at Belongil. It’s intractable,” she said.

However, Cr Barham accused Ms Cusack, the Opposition climate change and environment spokeswoman, of failing to consult with both sides of the debate and losing objectivity.

“Catherine Cusack has been lost in a personality issue herself, rather than stepping back and looking at the planning issues and what the history is,” Cr Barham said.

“She hasn’t come to talk to this council and doesn’t seem to accept that we have had a planning principle in place for 22 years.

“The intractable issue is that owners don’t want to accept they bought into a buyer beware market.”

Where Ms Cusack said the council had pursued a political view as a legal issue, Cr Barham said it had pursued an established planning principle.

“She’s right that Byron is a unique situation because we are the only one (council) that has had this sort of principle in place for over 20 years,” Cr Barham said.

The issue of coastal erosion and the right of beachfront landowners to protect their properties is currently being debated in the NSW Lower House as the Parliament considers an amended Coastal Protection Bill.

The Bill aims to allow owners of beachfront properties to protect their homes from erosion during major storms.

However, it has been attacked by the Opposition for being complex to the point of being ineffective.



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