Council mulls intervention on Hearnes Lake pesticide pollution

CONCERNS about Hearnes Lake have come to the fore with the recent release of a study into pesticide pollution by environmental scientist Maxine Rowley.

She presented her findings to City of Coffs Harbour councillors at the meeting on March 9, prior to debate on a motion put by Cr Jonathan Cassell and Cr Tony Judge to address community concerns about Hearnes Lake pesticide pollution.

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Cr Cassell tabled a motion, seconded by Cr Judge, calling for a Council report into the litigation risks that may be faced as a result of scientific evidence of pesticide pollution in Hearnes Lake.

“The evidence is clear that Hearnes Lake is a polluted mess and more needs to be done by all levels of government to restore this essential ecosystem back to health and give confidence to the community who came to the meeting to support action to save it,” Cr Cassell said.

“Council has a responsibility to make sure our community’s health is maintained when the public engage with natural environments such as waterways, and pollution incidents that lead to possible illnesses need to be treated very seriously.”

Cr Cassell called for a report seeking clarification that Council was upholding its legal obligations and that the community can rely on Council to take the matter seriously.

A foreshadowed motion by Cr Scott Walgamott to seek a report on the establishment of a Council-driven task force was adopted instead.

“While my motion was superseded by the foreshadowed motion by Cr Walgamott, it was pleasing to see all Councillors want to end the pollution issues facing Hearnes Lake,” Cr Cassell said.

“I would like to have confidence that this task force can deliver where the State Government has failed to do so but I question why this financial and managerial responsibility should fall on local government.”

Cr Judge said the extent and effect of pesticide pollution in Hearnes Lake was alarming, both in terms of the health of the lake itself and the impact on the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

“I note that the motion passed by Council last night is to have a report prepared for consideration by Council on the feasibility of a direct intervention at the source of potential contamination,” Cr Judge said.

“I am looking forward to receiving that report soon.

“I believe we must respond with an appropriate sense of urgency.”

By Andrew VIVIAN

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