Most oppose policy of retreat
NEARLY 1000 submissions were received on the Byron Shire Council’s controversial draft coastal zone management plan when its exhibition period closed this week, with the majority opposed to the policy of ‘planned retreat’.
The council’s director of planning, Ray Darney, said submissions were still being logged, but most appeared to be standard form letters signed by people within and outside the shire.
Form letters would be considered during the review process, but were likely to be given less weight than well thought out individual submissions, he said.
The draft plan is fiercelyopposed by Belongil Beach residents and business group Byron United, who say the ‘plannedretreat’ policy will be disastrous for the community.
Most controversial is the enforcement of a 20-metre buffer zone between the ocean and development. Homes that come within the 20-metre zone due to beach erosion will have to be demolished or relocated and protection works like rock walls will be restricted.
Byron United vice-president James Lancaster said the plan, if adopted, would cost the community hundreds of millions of dollars. He said council should be supporting and protecting residents and the community, rather than ‘demolishing and abandoning them’.
Mr Darney said the 20-metre buffer policy was designed to ‘absorb the potential threat of immediate coastal hazards to life and property,’ and acknowledged there would always be diverging opinions on such an important planning instrument.
He said the plan could be revisited following the review of submissions, which was expected to be complete by early February.
Councillors will consider potential changes to the document at a meeting in late February and, if changes are significant, it could go out on public exhibition again.
Mr Darney said the draft plan might be also affected by the State Government’s Coastal Panning and Coastal Risk Management Guidelines, also due to be finalised in February.
“We may have to make adjustments to fit the requirements of the Government,” he said.