More than a hundred people gathered at the Community Centre in Hawks Nest last week to hear MidCoast Council’s future plans for the dredging of the lower Myall River system.
There were members from the Winda Woppa Association, Progress Association, Chamber of Commerce and the Myall River Action Group in attendance.
State MP for Port Stephens Kate Washington was also there for part of the meeting.
The large turnout was testament to the depth of feeling in the community to this ongoing and ever growing controversial issue.
The meeting was addressed by Gerard Tuckerman, Manager of Natural Resources for MidCoast Council.
In a nutshell, it comes down to funding or the lack of it when it comes to Council’s plans for future dredging.
There’ll be no more dredging of the Corrie Channel for at least six years.
The Eastern Channel, known as the ‘shortcut’ will be looked at again in seven years.
‘’We will do it (the Eastern Channel) in about seven years’ time because we will need the sand for the stockpile,” Mr. Tuckerman told News Of The Area.
As for the ‘Gut’, MidCoast Council says it’s the responsibility of Roads and Maritime Services and Crown Lands to maintain moorings.
Council was also asked about the viability of buying its own dredge.
“The equation doesn’t add up,” Mr Tuckerman said.
“We looked at it about four or five years ago when a dredge came up for sale up at Port Macquarie.”
“We did the sums, looked at cost sharing arrangements with oyster farmers in Wallace Lake, and we couldn’t make it stack up.”
Mr Tuckerman went on to say, “The private sector has the expertise to maintain a dredge, and you wouldn’t get one design of dredge to do the job.”
When the Eastern Channel is able to be used by ferries on the trip between Tea Gardens and Port Stephens it takes 20 minutes off the journey each way.
Gordon Grainger from the Myall River Action Group said, “The Community needs to band together and use one voice to lobby the State Government for funding.”
It was hoped Dr Peter Scanes from the NSW Department of Office Environment and Heritage would address the gathering, but he left before it was over.
By Margie TIERNEY