Byron Bay has become a flash point for a collision between local politics, environmental ideology and property rights.

6 August 2013 — A report has found concern about the future impacts of climate change is paralysing management of the NSW coastal zone.

Researchers from Macquarie University’s Risk Frontiers research centre looked at Byron Bay as a case study, and found it had become a flash point for a collision between local politics, environmental ideology and property rights.

“This pre-emptive focus on future climate change has allowed both sides of politics to defer solutions for present coastal management issues,” said associate professor in climate and coastal risk Ian Goodwin.

“Much of the leadership paralysis that has occurred has not just been based on ideological differences but on a lack of knowledge of natural sand supply, transport and wave climate.”

“Parts of the present coastline may well need to be abandoned,” said lead author Dr Kevin Roche, “as certain areas become impractical and too expensive to protect from climate change.

“However, that time is not yet here, and a visionary approach balancing both environmental needs and private property protection is needed now, as we move into more frequent La Niña conditions.

“To date there have been no announcements on the next stage of coastal reform for permanent coastal protection works, two-and-a-half years after the election of the Coalition in NSW, which vigorously opposed the regime established by Labor and the Greens whilst in opposition.”

The paper, Management of the Coastal Zone in Byron Bay: The Neglect of Medium-term Considerations, has been published in the Australian National University journal Agenda.

It covers Risk Frontiers’ contributions from a scientific and policy perspective, including:

  • Analysis of the underlying drivers of persistent erosion trends
  • Policy outlines of recent and historical planning instruments and studies
  • A proposed case for medium-term solutions, where landowners and policy makers can arrive at a compromise.

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  1. I am president of Old Bar Beach Sand Replenishment Group Inc.
    Dr. Shaw Mead has designed two off-shore reefs to protect Old Bar. They are very environmentally friendly. Dr.Ian Goodwin knows of our beach having done a study in 2005 on protection for the Meridian resort. I have seen the damage which can be done by end wall erosion of seawalls and am very supportive of the off-shore reef protection, which emulates, or in one of our reefs, replaces nature.

    I would like to discuss our plan with Dr.Kevin Roche.