Another fight is looming over proposed marina facilities near the Tweed River at Chinderah with Tweed shire councillors tomorrow set to vote on two large boat storage development proposals, one for the prominent old-highway rest stop known as Jenners Corner.
Greens Cr Katie Milne, a longtime campaigner to protect the Tweed River from overdevelopment, says the two projects will make an ‘ugly’ entry statement for the Tweed from the north and spoil Chinderah’s riverside village feel.
The projects, both recommended for approval by council planners, involve storage berths for more than 150 boats with the facilities ringed by high metal fences, showrooms, cafes and caretaker dwellings.
And Cr Milne says it’s ‘totally out of order’ for planners to recommend approval when the dry-boat storage developments are prohibited under the draft 2012 Local Environment Plan (LEP) to be ratified by the state government any time soon.
She says the dry-marina facilities should be located, as per the 2012 LEP, in industrial zones of the village as they’re ‘no longer suited to the central business area’.
‘Staff say that despite this prohibition, it meets the objectives of the draft plan’s mixed zone, yet they don’t explain how and there’s absolutely no reference to the hugely controversial Chinderah marina plan of the past, it’s still about putting ugly massive boat storage along the river,’ Cr Milne said.
The two plans, one for 116 storage berths and the other for 38, follow not long long after council’s push to go ahead with building a 30-metre pontoon on the riverbank near where the boat-storage developments are proposed.
Cr Milne said the pontoon would be the largest on the river, but the only one with both sides accessible, providing 60-metres-plus of mooring space.
The three boating developments together, she said, would not just affect the look and amenity of Chinderah, but also compound environmental impacts on the river’s seagrass beds.
‘And what’s more, the developers of these facilities are not even required to pay parking contributions, at least the old Chinderah marina proposal included parking,’ she said.
‘It’s going to be open slather for parking, people are going to be forced to park along the esplanade (Chinderah Bay Drive) after getting to the boat ramp, many will park in public areas nearby.’
Cr Milne, who entered local politics on the back of community support for her successful fight which stopped the proposed mega marina eight years ago, said council was setting the Tweed River up to provide even larger marina facilities than that 115-berth marina refused in the Land and Environment Court in 2007.
‘Chinderah is a beautiful village and people there want it kept as an attractive low-key riverside type of place, there’s many caravan parks there as well, yet they want to turn it into an ugly industrial area, these developments should be restricted,’ she said.
‘Council has recommended approval for both of these dry marina developments, despite the Land and Environment Court ruling, and despite councillors recently passing a motion to undertake a recreational strategy to determine the communities preferred use of the river.
‘Council advised at the last February meeting that the area available for safe boating distances was already near capacity from Stotts Island to Bray Park Weir, during peak demand times in 2007, and already exceeded safe capacity between Tumbulgum and Condong.(1)
‘Council also reported last year that the Tweed River is experiencing massive erosion threatening to undermine the Tweed Valley Way and Tumbulgum Road: it was advised that boat wakes are the dominant wave force upstream of Chinderah.
‘The erosion bill along these roads alone is estimated at $10 million. Council very nearly dedicated the entire future Environment Levy for the next 10 years on this one stretch of erosion.
‘Only approximately five per cent of the population own boats and 60 per cent of Tweed’s boat traffic is reported to be from Queensland.
‘It’s hard to reconcile under these circumstances that Council is not only supporting these marinas, but forging ahead on their own plans for the largest pontoon on the River for Chinderah Bay .
‘The previous Chinderah marina was refused due to increased boat traffic causing significant and unacceptable impacts to the Lillies Island seagrass beds which was deemed important for the overall ecology of the Tweed River.
‘Chinderah Bay is home to the largest seagrass bed in the Tweed River, just upstream of Barneys Point Bridge.
‘This single seagrass bed comprises 40 per cent of all the seagrass in the river and is a vital nursery for fish breeding.
‘The Chinderah Marina Survey 2003 showed that 87 pr cent of respondents wanted to see the level of motorised boats as the same as now or less than now, and that the peaceful nature of the river was important to 98 per cent of the 612 respondents.’