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Byron Shire
April 11, 2021

Boats threaten health of Tweed River: Milne

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How many Gold Coast boaties can the Tweed River bear?

Greens councillor Katie Milne is asking that question as the Tweed Shire Council considers yet another application this week for a boat storage facility.

With sections of the Gold Coast banning certain craft from its waterways, an increasing number of enthusiasts have been heading to the Tweed River to get their fix.

The problem is, while those visitors might be good for business, the river is not coping very well and the council is under increasing pressure to act on the issue.

At its most recent meeting, the council considered a report outlining costs involved in stablising some local roads impacted by river erosion.

In that report, staff estimated that there were 5,754 metres of roadway within the priority reach (between Murwillumbah and Stotts Island, adjacent to the Tweed Valley Way and Tumbulgum Road) that needed attention.

The report said the total cost to stablise severe erosion over ten years could be as high as $9 million, with maintenance costs adding to the figure.

Cr Milne reckons the costs are outweighing the benefits.

She points to a 2008 report, Tweed River’s Environmental Carrying Capacity, which describes the number of boats that can be accommodated at each section of the river.

Six years ago that report said the stretch from Tumbulgum to Condong exceeded its limits during peak times, while the reaches from Stotts Island to Bray Park Weir were at or near capacity.

‘The community and visitors said it was enough more than 10 years ago,’ Cr Milne said.

‘The Chinderah Marina was overturned in the Land and Environment Court due to the potential impacts on the largest seagrass bed in the river, social and economic considerations, and visual impact.

‘The court deemed that the impacts on the seagrass, which is a nursery for young marine life, had potential to affect the overall ecology of the river.

Cr Milne said council reports had since highlighted significant erosion along many lengths of the Tweed River.

She said that erosion placed marine habitats and roads and infrastructure at risk, ‘with wakeboarding identified as a significant factor’.

‘Last year council’s management team recommended dedicating the entire proposed ratepayer environment levy for the next 10 years to the Tweed River’s erosion and council has refused all commercial wakeboarding ventures,’ she said.

Tweed Shire councillors recently resolved to review of the Tweed River’s Environmental Carrying Capacity, and to develop a Tweed River Recreational Strategy to determine the community’s preferred use of the river, but Cr Milne argues those studies will be too late for the current proposals before the council.

‘Basically, more motorised activity, but particularly the new wakeboarding craze, means less fish, more conflict between other users on the river, and a significant financial cost to the ratepayers.’

The council’s planning meeting will be held Thursday evening from 5pm.

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  1. Like some things Clr Milne says, they are baseless and occasionally false. There has being no specific watercraft banned from gold coast waterways but the Gold Coast Waterways Authority (GCWA) is calling for community feedback on its speed limits. To insinuate that vessel movement on the river is the cause of the erosion is also incorrect, the same council documents show erosion on river banks were caused by a combination of tide, wind, flood, farming, animal movements around the banks. NSW maritimes Tweed Estuary boating plan says “The consultation process has shown that such an extensive restriction of an activity such as wakeboarding
    should not be implemented at this time” when it referenced stakeholder concern about suggestions vessels that are towing cause erosion damage. The fingal stretch from the bridge to the river mouth was rock walled many years ago and has proved to be the best option. A boat storage facility is just that, storage. It doesn’t prove increased vessel movements on the river. it will give people options to store their boats and hopefully get some of them into a safer area instead of being parked whilst not being used on the roads around the shire,

  2. There has always been boats on the river but never as many as there is now particularly at Tumbulgum . Also it’s the type of boat , speed boats towing things being the main culprit . If they have not been banned from Queensland waterways , if it’s all good up there what are they doing down here ? We all understand businesses in Tumbulgum do well out of them . But there are a lot of tourists that frequent Tumbulgum on weekends and through the week that are not boatie’s . To imply the Tourist trade in Tumbulgum is dependant upon boatie’s is untrue although there absence would have some impact . It’s really a question about whether the benefit outweighs the cost . Looking at Councils own figures it’s pretty obvious it doesn’t . Keeping in mind that cost is born by every ratepayer not just the few that have businesses in Tumbulgum.


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