Great Lakes Walk and Aquatic Trail Project lacks support from National Parks and Wildlife

The initial vision for the Great Lakes Walk and Aquatic Trail Project. Photo: NewScape.

 

MIDCOAST Council’s Great Lakes Walk and Aquatic Trail Project has not been supported by National Parks and Wildlife Services.

The correspondence received from The Hon. Matt Kean, MP Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment to Mr Stephen Bromhead, Member for Myall Lakes, stated that National Parks and Wildlife are not able to support the current version of the Great Lakes Walk and Aquatic Trail, a 100km Great Walk along the coast between Forster and Hawks Nest.

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Investigating the feasibility of this project was a high priority recommendation contained in the MidCoast Destination Management Plan with councillors writing local members to advocate for the project.

Minister Kean’s response confirmed that NPWS could not support this project for a range of reasons.

These included, “Inflated benefit to cost ratio, inconsistency with the current Myall Lakes National Park Plan of Management, a range of environmental and Aboriginal cultural impacts, land tenure issues, unvalidated market demand assumptions and requiring more detailed project costs,” Mr Kean said.

Councillors at the 24 November Ordinary Council meeting were left feeling disappointed by this decision.

“I want to express my disappointment that the state government hasn’t found fit to even partially fund or give us an expectation that they will look at funding this project in the future.

“This would have been a huge economic boost for the area bringing in people through tourism,” Deputy Lord Mayor Claire Pontin said.

A number of councillors amended the original motion to express this.

“Disappointment which Councillor Pontin has expressed is probably an understatement.

“Once again we get left out and we’re extremely disappointed but I’m hoping that the new Council takes up the courage and seeks deputation to get this project fit in,” Cr Len Roberts said.

The initial plan proposed a trail journey between Pacific Palms and Tea Gardens, offering a unique combination of coastal walking and estuary kayaking and was designed to attract partnerships with a range of operators ensuring that various markets could gain access to the right supporting products to enjoy the area.

The Council has expressed its extreme disappointment in regards to the decision not to support the project and has moved that the Great Lakes Walk and Aquatic Trail Project be set down for a further review at a Councillor Workshop on a date prior to May 2022.

 

By Tara CAMPBELL

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