MYALL River Action group is calling for a single authority to manage issues within Port Stephens waterways such as the dredging of the Myall River and the retention of Jimmys Beach.
Great Lakes Deputy Mayor, Len Roberts, gave a presentation at the most recent Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association meeting on the need for this unity.
He said up to 11 different government and non-government agencies were involved in the discussions that had taken place over the past six years to get approval for the dredging of the Myall River.
These included Great Lakes Council, Port Stephens Council, Office of Environment and Heritage, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of Primary Industries, Waterways, Crown Lands, Office of Water, and the two local Aboriginal Land Councils.
“Communication between the many agencies was, at best, only satisfactory but ranged to inadequate and, at times, non-existent,” Cr Roberts said at the meeting.
Cr Roberts also said that Port Stephens Council is responsible for the port, up to the high water mark, however, the land that is above the high water mark and that is directly affected by storm activity and sand movements is the responsibility of Great Lakes Council.
“About two thirds of the width of the port’s beaches on the northern side are, in fact, the responsibility of Port Stephens Council. Further, Corrie Island, which has RAMSAR significance and is protected by Commonwealth legislation, also sits within Port Stephens Council’s area,” he said.
“Unfortunately, but understandably, Port Stephens Council is not interested in being involved in discussions to find solutions to the problems of what they believe to be issues in Great Lakes Council’s area.”
He, along with the Myall River Action Group believe a single person, should be in a position to call for reports from the applicable agencies and then be able to “sign off” on the project.
Peter Pritchard of the Myall River Action Group advised that the concept of a single authority was not new and had, in fact, been used very successfully at Lake Illawarra on the south coast to address some environmental issues which existed about ten years ago.
Gordon Grainger of the Myall River Action Group said all major political parties standing for the upcoming State election had indicated their support for the idea of a single authority.
“We believe it is in the best interests of the port and the community living around the port to get this single authority into action,” Mr Grainger said.
“After the March election it will be up to the elected representative to pursue this idea within the parliament,” he said.