Belongil property owner: Rock wall was ‘promised’

JOHN Vaughan is one of three property owners at Belongil who have put in $100,000 each to part fund Byron Shire Council's plans to build a $1.2 million rock wall as part of interim beach access works at Manfred St, Belongil Beach.

Mr Vaughan's property is next door to several council-owned blocks to be protected by the 105m (crest length) wall built between two existing rock walls.

There has been a long history of dispute between Belongil residents, community groups, the council, and within the council itself, as to the sequence of events leading up to the decision.

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But Mr Vaughan is pleased the council will be building the wall, and said it should have started a decade ago.

LONG HISTORY: Belongil Beach resident John Vaughan at his erosion-damaged property.
LONG HISTORY: Belongil Beach resident John Vaughan at his erosion-damaged property. The Northern Star

"I think it's quite extraordinary that we have now contributed $100,000 each for a wall that council has a right to come back and pull out (if it is not part of any future CZMP)."

Mr Vaughan said the ongoing tussle over the wall had taken an enormous toll on him personally.

"Since the weather event of 2009 we have lost all our privacy and around 700sqm of land," he said. "After that event I offered to restore what had been there previously but council took me to court. Since then I have spent around $1.4 million on litigation and rebuilding temporary works."

Byron Residents' Group is concerned that money raised by the council's foreshadowed paid parking scheme may be used to finance the wall.

"Committing ratepayers' money to building a temporary $1.25m rock wall at Belongil - allegedly to 'stabilise beach access' - without the protection of the state government under a Coastal Zone Management Plan is fiscally and legally reckless," Cate Coorey of BRG said.

"Beach access could be easily fixed at Manfred St with a wooden or metal staircase as is seen on beaches all over Australia. This would be a cheap option that would not cause the erosion of the beach that rock walls do."



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