Will proposed World Surf League event divide Lennox Head?
After a whirlwind week of meetings and rushed consultation with local community groups, Ballina Shire councillors will meet this afternoon to decide whether to support a World Surf League event for Lennox Head.
It all started last Thursday, when council representatives attended a confidential meeting with the WSL and the state government to discuss the idea.
The proposed event is a professional championship short board surfing competition for men and women, which would be held from April 1-11.
Bumping in/out would extend the event period from March 25 until April 14.
"The event would be part of the 2021 WSL Championship Tour, with expected crowd attendance currently proposed for 2000 to 3000 spectators," the council's report states.
"Normally, the event would bring entertainment such as beach commentary, live video, DJ music, food vans and sponsorship activation, however a scaled-down version is proposed to enable 54 of the world's top surfing athletes to compete in a controlled environment due to public health restrictions.
"The proposed primary location for the event is situated within Pat Morton Lookout, utilising Lennox Point with mobile sites at Lennox Head Main Beach and Sharpes Beach."
Pat Morton Lookout would be closed from March 25 until April 14.
Although the council has yet to provide support for the WSL event, it is understood deputy premier John Barilaro is coming to the region tomorrow to make a formal announcement in support of the event.
The council report being presented at today's extraordinary meeting explains that, from a planning perspective, development consent is not required for the activity or temporary structures.
Approvals would be required from Cape Byron Marine Park and the RMS.
WSL has formally advised the council they have support from the Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce, Le-Ba Boardriders, Lennox Head Surfing Reserve and Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council.
There are objections to the proposal.
The Lennox Head Residents' Association has raised concerns about COVID-19, the closure of Pat Morton Lookout car park and coastal pathways, potential use of other areas like Williams Reserve and traffic issues.
The Lennox National Surfing Reserve agreed with the above points, and also said despite being the "custodians" of the reserve, they had not been consulted, and approving the event would "divide" the community.
Lennox Head Landcare are also concerned about general site degradation, the impact of crowds on the Themeda grassland endangered ecological community and pollution.
A Facebook group which was set up this week, No Corpo CT Tour for Lennox Head, has more than 130 likes.
It states: "World Surf League has completely backdoored community and council and gone straight to State Government who have signed-off on this event going ahead.
"There will be no community consultation and no council deliberation.
"Deputy Premier is showing up here, Lennox, on Thursday to make the announcement."
Despite the concerns of some sections of the community, council staff have recommended the council provide in-principle support to the proposed World Surf League event," subject to adequate conditions being placed on the event, as determined by the General Manager, in relation to environmental values, community amenity, traffic management and pedestrian access".