A scare campaign by a little-known lobby group trying to undermine a study on the impacts of boat wake erosion on the Tweed River has come under fire from Tweed mayor Barry Longland.
The campaign claims the study, which is now accepting submissions, will lead to a ban on water-skiing, wakeboarding and other power-craft activities.
But Cr Longland has slammed the fear tactic saying he’s concerned about the ‘deliberate spread of misinformation’ on the report Impact of Wake on Tweed River Erosion Study.
’The submissions are being generated through a website set up by an organisation called the Tweed River Awareness Committee, which claims an effort is being made to ban waterskiing and powerboating activities on the river,’ he said.
’The study does not make any recommendation to ban powered watercraft on the Tweed River and it does not mention jet skis, fishing boats or other recreational craft,’ Cr Longland said.
He said also that council did not have authority to make any decisions relating to the operation of non-commercial vessels on the river ‘as this is administered by the NSW Department of Roads and Maritime Services’.
The lobby group’s website has two large pictures of a waterskier and powerboat with crossed circles over them saying, ‘Waterskiing and powerboating activities are going to be banned on the Tweed River’, then urges viewers to ‘Click here to email Tweed council’.
Powerboating and other high-speed water activities are banned on most Gold Coast and south-east Queensland waterways, which drives many watersports enthusiasts across the border to use the Tweed River instead.
The study has found towing activities such as waterskiing and wakeboarding could exacerbate riverbank erosion, especially in the upstream areas of the river estuary.
Last week, a controversial plan by a Gold Coast wakeboarding company to run a coaching clinic on a stretch of river between Fingal Head and Chinderah was thrown into limbo after Tweed councillors decided to defer approving it in order to negotiate designated areas for use which would have less impact on the river and for a trial period.
Opening the floodgates
Opponents said approval of the wakeboarding clinic, which had been operating illegally on the river for five years, would open the floodgates for other high-speed watersport activities to use the river.
Cr Longland said council would use the information generated by the study to plan its own work on riverbank stabilisation, mainly through structural works, and may make a submission to NSW Maritime about towing and riverbank erosion.
‘The study identifies that waves generated by towing vessels account for the majority of vessel wake energy produced on the Tweed River, and that towing has become a dominant bank-erosion mechanism,’ he said.
‘The Council has responsibility for the environmental management of the river, including funding bank stabilisation works. If all current erosion issues on the river were to be addressed the cost to the community and government would be an estimated $10 million. Towing activities are acknowledged to generate about $2 million per year to the Tweed economy.
‘The options discussed in the study seek to balance the demand for recreational boating in the upper estuary against the environmental and economic impacts of vessel wake-generated river bank erosion.
‘Submissions have generally expressed a genuine regard for the long-term condition of the river and people’s ability to enjoy it. People who wish to positively influence this important debate should do so from a basis of fact.’
The lobby group told Gold Coast media last week that they were ‘concerned a few councillors are trying to stop powerboating on the Tweed River in favour of more passive boating’.
To read the full study visit www.tweed.nsw.gov.au, or see it at council offices and at local libraries until April 20.