Main Beach Byron Bay on July 28, 2020. Main Beach and Clarkes Beach have been damaged by serious erosion and have been left covered in debris.
Main Beach Byron Bay on July 28, 2020. Main Beach and Clarkes Beach have been damaged by serious erosion and have been left covered in debris.

Beach erosion is part of a bigger, ‘crucial’ issue

BYRON mayor Simon Richardson has called for higher-level leadership on climate change.

With Byron Bay's Clarkes Beach and Main Beach still in disarray after recent storms caused serious erosion, Byron Shire Council has been working to clean up debris left along the coast.

Cr Richardson said the council, while left with the consequences of these sorts of weather events, has no real power to address the root cause climate change.

"Obviously it affects different regions in different ways," Cr Richardson said.

"For the Northern Rivers region an increase of storm intensity will be the most impacting weather change as our climate changes."

He said state and federal leadership that connected the dots between these increasing weather events and climate change was needed, but lacking.

"It's just frustrating in a sense that what we're being told, for a decade now, is occurring (and) … we're not joining the dots and acknowledging these sorts of things are never going to be fixed by a council or a smaller group," he said.

He said unless governments recognised the connection between climate change and local impacts, communities would be left battling the consequences.

"I don't raise this to create alarm," Cr Richardson said.

"I raise this to create a conversation.

"Where's the point of contact, where is the ombudsman, so to speak, on coastal erosion?

"These are things the coastal communities and organisations around Australia have been calling for."

He said while COVID-19 had rightly attracted a "pandemic-level emergency response", the slower-burning issue of the climate had not.

"I think ultimately ideology plays a role," he said.

"It stops us thinking more about it, stops us making evidence-based decisions.

"The responses to the pandemic were all medical expert-led.

"What we're not responding to best advice with is climate change.

"I think it's crucial we start to now join the dots."

He said this doesn't have to mean "tripling" government funding.

"Sometimes it could just be changing legislation to allow community energy projects to get off the ground easier," he said.

"It could just be remove some tariffs off imported cars that are EV."