Outraged Brunswick Heads residents have called for an immediate suspension of all work on a popular pathway on the river mouth’s southern breakwall, which the state government wants to bitumen the entire length.
Residents were also incensed that they, or the indigenous community, were not consulted in any way in the controversial plans for the town, including dredging the local boat harbour and river, and the redevelopment of the marina.
Many of the 100-plus locals at a public meeting on Monday night voiced their anger at the proposed asphalting of the walkway’s surface, preferring other materials dsuch as compressed hailstone, sand-coloured cement, or compressed road base which would still improve accessibility for wheelchairs and emergency service vehicles.
They called for any future plans by Crown Lands for the town to involve them.
It comes as the primary industries department (Crown Lands division) also announced that around half a million dollars would be spent to upgrade the manager’s residence and reception area at the Massey Greene caravan park next to the boat harbour, which many say is extravagant and unnecessary.
The dredging works will cost taxpayers around $460,000 while the walkway makeover is costing around $230,000.
The campaign to stop the primary industries department (Crown Lands division) pushing ahead with its contentious plans is being ramped up with a public lands forum to be held in the town on Wednesday, 19 August, from 6pm-9pm.
Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson told Monday’s meeting he feared the dredging of the boat harbour would have environmental impacts, with the dredging spoil to be dumped on nearby New Brighton beach.
Cr Richardson said it appeared the whole plan for the dredging was based on ‘safe navigation and tourism’ by Crown Lands, which had yet to prove the case.
He said this concern was echoed in a submission on the plan made by Cape Byron Marine Park, which was overruled by decision makers within Crown Lands.
He also raised concerns about the impact on sub-tidal habitat, seagrasses and marine life such as loggerhead turtles, as well as on a colony of threatened and endangered birds nesting within 50 metres of the proposed dredging .
The mayor said the integrity of the whole process by which crown lands had approved its own plans was ’questionable’ and there had been no cost benefit analysis
Brunswick Heads Progress Association president Leonie Bolt told the meeting the lack of community consultation on the dredging, boat-harbour precinct redevelopment, and the southern breakwall was a major concern for residents.
Brunswick Heads Fisherman’s Co-operative members Chris Thompson and John O’Connell questioned the need for dredging to accommodate large draught vessels, as there was only one trawler left in the harbour.
The Evans Head breakwater wall was asphalted two weeks ago. But many Brunswick Heads residents don’t want the same treatment gien to the southern breakwater on the Brunswick River.
The two fishermen agreed that vessels with a draught of more than four feet would have difficulty navigating the river and that silting was causing problems so that boat operators had to be mindful of the tides in order to enter or exit the river.
They supported the removal of contaminated sand near the old slipway, which was to be removed in geo-textile bags, but that that residents should be consulted more on the plans.
A master plan for the boat harbour redevelopment is yet to go on exhibition.
The meeting passed two resolutions, demanding an immediate suspension of all work on the crest of the southern breakwall ‘until such times as there is agreement on the material for the walkway’; and that any future plans for Crown Lands in Brunswick Heads ‘includes consultation with the residents of this community, including indigenous representatives during all stages of planning’.
The upcoming public lands forum is being organised by Greens MPs Jan Barham, a former Byron shire mayor, and MP for Ballina, Tamara Smith, at the Community Centre, South Beach Road, Brunswick Heads.
See previous story at https://www.echo.net.au/2015/08/brusnwick-heads-locals-to-debate-shock-and-awe-redevelopment/