Byron’s rock wall debate ‘at the point of farce’: councillor

SPEAK UP: Councillor Duncan Dey addresses residents who turned out yesterday to protest a rock wall proposed to be built at Belongil.
SPEAK UP: Councillor Duncan Dey addresses residents who turned out yesterday to protest a rock wall proposed to be built at Belongil. Nolan Verheij-Full

BYRON councillor Alan Hunter has dismissed a special meeting to debate a controversial rock wall on the Belongil beach as a "child's ploy" to pacify opponents to the project.

In May the council voted 5-4 to go ahead with the plan to spend $1.27 million on Interim Beach Access Stabilisation Works at Manfred Street, Belongil.

The works involve, a 110-metre long rock wall to replace the existing sand bag retaining wall.

However, Cr Hunter said there was no new information about the wall for councillors to consider at the special meeting

The motion to overturn the original decision was a "child's ploy" and about "playing to the gallery".

"We have made our decision," Cr Hunter said.

"Simply put, the rock wall is the best way to maintain the council's assets."

The current sandbags, in place under a court order, cost around $150,000 per year to maintain he said.

Cr Hunter said the councillors needed to move on from the rock wall decision.

"We are trying to be pragmatic for the shire, this has become a distraction, we want to get on with things," he said.

Another vote on the rock wall would mean the issue had been before the council at least a six times and would only slow the process down, pro-wall councillor Chris Cubis said.

The sand bags had been in place for 20 years and the council had already spent about $2 million on reports covering different options for the site.

The council had an obligation to protect the land and local home owners were prepared to put in $300,000 towards the rock wall. Its construction would also free the council from legal action, Cr Cubis said.

Greens councillor Duncan Dey said he would vote against the rock wall because it would take $1 million out of the council's pocket at a time when it was already strapped for cash.

The rock wall would also be very hard to remove or modify if it went against policies established as part of the forthcoming Coastal Zone Management Plan, he said.

But Cr Dey agreed with his conservative colleagues' view the council had spent too much time on the issue.

"It's at the point of being a farce," Cr Dey said.

Topics:  byron bay rock wall

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