Agreement has been reached between Byron Shire Council and a Belongil land owner over stabilisation of coastal erosion caused by the recent severe storms.

Byron Shire’s Mayor Jan Barham said council and staff have been working tirelessly over the past weeks to try to reach an agreement with the landowner.

The most recent Land and Environment Court hearing was instigated by the Belongil landowner in response to the court previously finding in favour of Byron Shire Council’s request for an injunction to stop the unauthorised dumping of rock on the Belongil beachfront.

When issuing the injunction against rock wall works, Justice Pain said: “[The evidence] reinforces my view that work done on one property in isolation is likely to have adverse impacts on neighbouring properties in the immediate vicinity and more generally along the Belongil spit.”

Cr Barham said: “As early as 4 June, council advised the landowner that it was agreeable to interim geobag stabilisation of the escarpment created by the recent storms and coastal erosion.

“On June 5, we advised the court and landowner that council supported the concept of the geobag works in principle and indicated we simply required clarification of technical issues such as the scope of the proposed works, where the sand was going to be sourced from and how access to the site was going to be achieved. 

“On 11 June 2009, the landowners revised their position again and requested council agree to fund works to reconstruct the geobag wall at the 2001 alignment.”

According to Cr Barham, the council was not in a position to commit public monies in the timeframes demanded by the landowner without a full assessment of the storm damage across the entire Shire.

“We have a duty to consider each of the demands for work and costs resulting from the storms following proper process,” she said.

“Council has made numerous offers to the landowner to agree to temporary protection measures so long as they did not involve rock. Agreement could not be reached and all of the offers, except for the last, were rejected by the landowner.

“On 12 June 2009, the presiding judge, Justice Biscoe, indicated he wished to provide the parties time to consider the landowners’ 11 June proposal.

“Justice Biscoe also indicated that it appeared to him that ‘the council has been doing a great deal to try and meet the situation in terms of addressing what the [landowners] have been putting’.

“The Belongil landowner now has the right to place sand between the escarpment and the geobag wall and to supplement the geobag wall. This includes works in front of the Belongil landowner’s property and the Manfred Street beach access.”