Crowds gathered on Tea Gardens waterfront last Friday as Federal Member for Paterson, Bob Baldwin, announced $750,000 in funding for the dredging and protection of the Myall River, Corrie Island and Jimmys Beach.
State Liberal candidate for Port Stephens, Councillor Ken Jordan, also came to the area to announce a $743,000 promise to the project from the NSW Government’s Coastal Management Program.
The funding will go to the Great Lakes Council to deliver an integrated project involving rehabilitating the Corrie Island Ramsar wetland site, restoring the eastern channel of the lower Myall River and designing, installing and testing an efficient sand transfer system from the Winda Woppa spit for ongoing nourishment of the eroding Jimmys Beach.
“Protecting our rivers and waterways is an important part of the Australian Government’s commitment to a healthier environment,” Mr Baldwin said.
“Working jointly with our state and local government counterparts, we will be protecting important migratory bird breeding grounds from the threat of feral pest animals and erosion,” he added.
Corrie Island is an important breeding site for several endangered migratory bird species.
Mr Baldwin and Cr Jordan were joined at Tea Gardens Wharf by Minister Matthew Mason-Cox and Great Lakes Council’s Mayor Jan McWIlliams.
The Jimmys Beach renourishment program involves the placement of approximately 20,000 m3 of sand annually onto the beach through the delivery of small quantities of sand on a more regular basis.
“Beach nourishment is the most cost effective and environmentally sound solution for managing the erosion hazard at Jimmys Beach and has been enshrined in long standing coastline management plans formulated under the State’s coastal management process,” Mr Baldwin said.
“The funds will go towards a sand transfer system that will deliver a cost saving of up to $400,000 per year.”
Great Lakes Council is also contributing funds to the project.
Mr Baldwin said the action would “not stop here” with the Australian and NSW Governments working together to establish a Corrie Island Protection Plan and options for Green Army projects.
The politicians gathered reiterated that the funding would not have been achieved without the activism of the Myall River Action Group.
Spokesman for the Myall River Action Group Gordon Grainger said the funding announcement was most welcome after “six years of struggle.”
“It recognises the importance of Corrie Island as a Ramsar listed treasure and most importantly, recognises the majority voices of the local communities who have demanded the failing quality of the Lower Myall be rectified and at the same time, alleviate the ongoing cost pressures to Council and the State Government in the never ending replenishment of Jimmys Beach sand erosion,” Mr Grainger said.
Mr Grainger said he wished to sincerely thank Mr Baldwin for his continuing support in his federal capacity for the Patterson Electorate, Craig Baumann as Member for Port Stephens and Ken Jordan, Liberal candidate for Port Stephens.
He said the Councillors and staff from Great Lakes Council had been most supportive and had carried the huge volume of preparation and frustrations.
He also said it was imperative thank the community.
“It was they who provide the agenda by placing 3500 signatures to a petition requesting remedial action be taken.
“It was they who provided State Government with 1100 letters demanding a questionable report be overturned,” he said.
“They have stood beside us all the way and it is they who are the real heroes.”
The dredge is booked to start unclogging the eastern channel in May this year.
Deputy Mayor Len Roberts is also planning a community meeting to outline the timeline of events.