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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Public access to lake ‘not affected’

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Claims that the sale of the two blocks could cut off access to Lake Ainsworth have been refuted by Ballina shire general manager Paul Hickey.

Brunswick Heads residents who have battled to protect public foreshore land after the takeover of their local caravan parks by the state government says the Lennox Head sale would cut off public access to Lake Ainsworth.

Spokesman Sean O’Meara told Echonetdaily ‘that’s what happens when North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) gets their hands on public crown land, a total monopolisation of public space’.

Mr O’Meara said NCHP has restricted Brunswick Heads residents’ access to their parklands and waterways by ‘giving tourists exclusive use of all Crown land right up to the waterline and allowing them to use public beaches as their own private boat harbours’.

‘They now plan to erect fences denying residents any access to rivers and parks they have used for generations. The state government and North Coast Holiday Parks will do the same to Lake Ainsworth unless residents and council take action now,’ he said.

Mr O’Meara said the Terrace Reserve, a riverside stretch of parkland used by Brunswick families for over 100 years, was currently being fought over by the state government and the local community.

‘In a similar situation to the Lennox Head plan, the state government did a backroom deal with council to buy land at a tenth of its value to then use it for supposed “public purpose recreation”. What the plans really intended was the commercial development of this parkland into a year-round upmarket tourist resort that would fence off and exclude residents from parkland and swimming areas they had used all their lives.’

But shire GM Paul Hickey said there was ‘no risk’ the lake would be cut off from general public access as there was an existing road to the lake, Pacific Parade.

Mr Hickey said the public also has to have access to the popular sport and recreation camp at Lake Ainsworth.

Mr Hickey also refuted a claim by an Echonetdaily reader that he had a conflict of interest in the matter because he was a longtime friend of NCHP manager Jim Bolger.

‘We once rented a unit together, as we both worked for Byron Shire Council for many years; he is now with the state government and I’m with local government,’ he said.

‘In the end our property guys have been dealing with this, so there’s no conflict of interest.’


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