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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Tweed council has wakeboarders in its sights

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Tweed River bank erosion is causing major concern for Tweed Shire Council. Photo Frank Smith www.geograph.org.uk)
Tweed River bank erosion is causing major concern at Tweed Shire Council. (Photo Frank Smith www.geograph.org.uk)

Darren Coyne

Tweed Shire Council has taken another step towards cracking down on wakeboarding on the shire’s waterways.

With a state government study into boating underway, the council approved a motion from Greens councillor Katie Milne to write to the Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water calling for a coordinated approach to preserving ‘the natural values and social amenity of the shire’s waterways’.

The motion also calls for mayor Barry Longland to enter into discussions with Tweed and Lismore MPs, and the Roads and Maritime Authority to seek their support.

Cr Milne put forward the motion ‘in light of significant riverbank erosion’.

She is pushing for a total ban on ‘wakeboarding and excessive wake or noise-generating activities’.

The council will also request the establishment of ‘maximum speed limits and restricted sensitive areas, and increasing educational and regulatory signage’.

The state government is undertaking a statewide review of boating facilities and safety measures in order to develop regional boating plans for each of the major waterways in NSW.

Numerous studies of the Tweed River have pointed to serious erosion concerns created by activities such as wakeboarding.

Cr Milne said riverbank erosion was costing the council millions of dollars to fix, with studies back as far as 10 years ago indicating areas of the river had already reached their peak limit for boats.

‘We’re not saying wakeboarding is the only cause but it’s one cause identified,’ she said.

Other causes such as loss of riverbank vegetation and sea level rises had also been identified but the council ‘had limited ability to remediate those other issues’

‘I personally believe our rivers are more conducive to passive recreation and a 10-year-old study already said it had reached its capacity in the upper reaches of the Tweed River,’ she said.

Cr Phil Youngblutt said a prominent businessman had already indicated he would organise town meetings to overturn any ban, while Cr Warren Polglase said it was an attempt to ban all water activities on the river.

‘Boats are already being tested for noise levels and there are already speed limits on the river. To lower them would take a lot of boats off the river,” Cr Polglase said.

‘I think there will be a big push from groups saying what are you trying to do because our rivers are an important part of tourism and leisure activities.’

Deputy mayor Michael Armstrong said however that fellow councillors were misinterpreting the aim of the motion.

‘Here’s an opportunity for a discussion to take place about the options. I’ve heard (from fellow councillors) that it will stop all activity but that’s not the case,” Cr Armstrong said.

“Why would there be mention of maximum speed limits if we were trying to stop everything?’

‘This is not an opportunity to go fearmongering and saying it will stop all activities. This is about outcomes so that everyone can enjoy the river for years to come,’ he said.

The motion was carried 4-3, with Crs Phil Youngblutt, Warren Polglase and Carolyn Byrne against.

Mayor Barry Longland and Crs Michael Armstrong, Gary Bagnall and Katie Milne supported the motion.

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