Cr Cubis Clarifies Council’s CZMP
Amid concerns as to Council’s CZMP policy decisions, Councillor Chris Cubis has answered Voice of Byron questions around Council’s decision-making process.
When asked for his response to allegations that the Committee preparing the CZMP was loaded with Belongil residents, Cr Cubis said that the CZMP was prepared by Council’s accepted coastal experts.
“In fact, there was no committee full of Belongil Residents writing the CZMP as suggested. We have run stakeholder and community forums, accepted the feedback and published it as part of the CZMP,” he said.
“The process has been both exhaustive and transparent.”
Cr Cubis also denied there were any “closed door” meetings aiming to fend off litigation from Belongil residents.
“Anyone saying that is speaking complete rubbish. A better question might be, did we accept coastal expert advice? And the answer to that is an unqualified ‘yes’.
“These baseless allegations that Council ignored expert advice and opted to do nothing, thus preventing landowners from protecting their own land are way off the mark. The CZMP improves our position, without further legal exposure.”
When asked to comment on claims that if the wall is built, it will pretty much cut the bay itself in half, with each end of the wall suffering significant loss of sand, and the destruction of sensitive wetlands, Cr Cubis replied, “Cut the Bay in half? This is a wild claim and difficult to justify answering. However, I’ll try.
“The Manfred Street wall of only about 130m abuts existing rock walls at each end. This is a contorted question as the Belongil Spit is at greater risk from being cut-off only where Council has refused to put protection in front of public land.
“Expert advice clearly advises that planned retreat is the more costly option. “
“The costs of a public buyout, and or restoration of services in the case of a partially washed out Belongil spit would be enormous,” he added.
“The Belongil estuary is also an exceptionally old habitat worth protecting.
Other questions addressed by Cr Cubis:
VoB: How will the sand in front of the wall be retained without sand augmentation in place?
Cr Cubis: At Council there are 653 pages of technical explanation that cover this. In short, the technology for sand protection and capture has been developing for over 40 years. The methodology is accepted by OEH and involves different levels of protection before planned retreat is considered.
“Modern walls (not necessarily rock) deflect wave energy and restore sand faster than the older style walls. The recent Eastern low did not expose the base of the new wall, and sand replenishment has been quick. The older walls in Byron did not fare as well.
“Whole-of-beach protection is more widely accepted in hotspots, so that concentration of erosion does not occur in one small area, as it has at Belongil. Removal of the three rock spurs at Jonson Street will ensure better transfer of sand naturally, so much so that sand augmentation is more unlikely to ever be required.”
VoB: There is a perception that the community hasn’t been adequately involved in the CZMP, and also that 23 days to comment on its 400 pages is not enough. Is that a fair claim?
Cr Cubis: The CZMP has been on exhibition several times this during the term of this Council. There have been exceptional amounts of public scrutiny, forums, and public debate.
“If you take into account that Council has been working on a CZMP for over 12 years (and several millions of dollars later) without actually submitting a plan, it’s laughable that we would not have it submitted within our term.
“Successive destructive rescission motions by the Greens have meant that we regretfully had to cut some public viewing time in order to complete the study in the 4 years. But the blame should be squarely laid on them for their ongoing irrationality on the issue.”
VoB: Why didn’t Council wait on passing the CZMP until the NSW Government’s Coastal Reform package is finalised?
Cr Cubis: “Why? NSW Governments of both persuasions have been waiting for the CZMP for over 10 years.
“We have been given ministerial direction to complete the plan. This constitutes a severe warning in bureaucratic terms.
“Completing the CZMP improves Council’s chances of funding for future erosion works. There is nothing radical about the work of Council’s coastal consultants. Water Research Laboratories have been Council consultants for a number of council terms. And the experts’ recommendations are accepted practice used all along the NSW coastline.
“We can always review should that ever be required, but I hardly think it will require major alteration.
“Recent comments from State Government on the latest East Coast Low only strengthen the correctness of this current plan.”