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Community Coastline Inspections and Workshops June 2007

Summary of Byron Shire Coastal Zone Management Plan Site Inspection and Workshops

Subsequent to Byron Shire Council’s adoption of the Coastline Management Study in 2004, Council embarked on the development of a Coastal Zone Management Plan as required under the NSW Governments Coastal Protection Act, 1979.

An updated understanding of community coastline issues and values was needed to assist the technical team, consisting of Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and the Water Research Laboratory (WRL), to design coastal management strategies that meet community expectations.  To increase this understanding, community members were invited to attend site inspections of the Byron shire coastline and participate in community workshops following each site inspection. The site inspections and workshops were run by Council’s consultants (PB and WRL) in conjunction with Council staff.

The site inspections provided community members with the opportunity to observe the environmental, recreational, landscape and amenity issues of key areas of the Byron coastline. Information packages for the day were posted to those that responded to the registration requirement to attend. The site inspections and workshops were held on the following dates:

  • Southern coastline site inspection (particularly visiting Byron Bay, Belongil and Suffolk Park), was held on 7 June, 2007. The workshop was held at the Suffolk Park Community Centre.
  • Northern coastline site inspection (particularly visiting New Brighton, South Golden Beach and Brunswick Heads) was held 8 June, 2007. The workshop was held at the Ocean Shores Community Centre.

Attendees of the site inspection were provided with Feedback Forms to assist in gathering written comment, in addition to those issues discussed during the site inspections. Further, during the workshops, community members formed small groups to complete “work sheets”. This provided the attendees with the opportunity to express their issues, expectations, identify pressures on the coastline and to work together in developing solutions for consideration by the technical team in preparing the Draft Coastal Zone Management Plan.

The site inspections and workshops were both well attended by the broader community and representatives of the following groups (but not limited to):

  • Council staff and Councillors
  • State Government Department representatives, particularly Department of Environment and Climate Change representatives
  • Byron Shire Council Coastline Management Committee
  • South Golden Beach Progress Association
  • New Brighton Progress Association
  • Belongil Progress Association
  • Individual beachfront property owners
  • Tourist operators

A summary of the outcomes from the two days is included below.

Community Values

The attendees were asked what they value or like about the coastline and why. The most commonly expressed values that arose from each working group, which could therefore be classified as highly valued, are noted below (in no order of preference). Further, it should be noted that aspects of these different values are obviously interrelated:

ValueReasoning

Naturalness of the Byron coastline environment / landscape

  • Buildings are not readily visible from the beach
  • Uniqueness of the Byron coastline e.g. the Cape
  • A sense of freedom exists while on the beach
  • High levels of dune vegetation exist along the coastline

Beach amenity

  • Constantly clean water
  • Peacefulness and tranquil beach landscape
  • Generally uncrowded, especially on beaches
  • High accessibility to the beaches and their surrounds
  • A sense of community exists

Diversity of Recreational opportunities

  • Beach walking opportunities along the entire coastline
  • Many low-impact activities currently  take place
  • The healthy well-being and lifestyle associated with beach recreation
  • Low cost holiday opportunities that exist on the coast

Key Issues

The attendees were asked what they thought the issues and pressures are that exist for the coastline. They were also asked to prioritise those issues and to provide possible solutions. The most commonly expressed issues that arose from each working group, which could therefore be expressed as ‘key’ issues, are noted below in order of importance:

IssuePossible Solution (not in order) 

1. Coastal Erosion, particularly:

  • Erosion of public lands
  • Loss of dune system
  • Lack of community appreciation of planned retreat
  • Lack of community understanding  on erosion issue
  • Alternatives to planned retreat should be further investigated
  • Better community education on erosion and planned retreat
  • Planned retreat alternatives could be re-investigated
  • Include sand scraping as a management tool
  • Investigate world’s best practices

2. Tourism, particularly:

  • Pressure on resources from high tourist visitation
  • Promote awareness of people impacts on the locality for the benefit of tourists
  • Cap bed numbers
  • Reduce/restrict holiday rentals/lettings
  • Seek government funding to address the issue

3. Animal control, particularly:

  • Lack of animal control on beaches & environment e.g. dogs, horses
  • Increase enforcement patrols on beaches
  • Seek funding to increase policing of issue

4. Beach access, particularly:

  • Illegal access to beach from private property
  • Damage caused to the environment from numerous access beach tracks
  • Identify public land boundaries to make legal access clearer
  • Greater enforcement of unauthorised use of public land