SHOALHAVEN City Council has been accused of delaying release of a management plan for the Shoalhaven River, and making amendments that weakened the plan.
The claims came from Shoalhaven Riverwatch despite council adopting an amended management plan for the Shoalhaven River.
But that has not stopped it being criticised by the Shoalhaven Riverwatch organisation.
Riverwatch claimed “short-sighted amendments made by council may impact on the allocation of State and Federal Government funding to help landowners in the upper section of the river undertake fencing work and bank restoration”.
At the heart of concerns is the contentious issue of fencing waterways to exclude cattle.
“Contrary to the advice from various environmental consultants and State Government experts, council has deleted the high priority action which supports the fencing of riverbanks to exclude cattle access and limit the destruction of riparian vegetation in the upper estuary of the river between the bridge and Burrier,” said Shoalhaven Riverwatch president Patricia Mason.
“Council has also removed the consultant’s recommendation that the plan should address the reduction of threats of boat wakes/waves to riparian vegetation and bank stability in the upper estuary.”
She claimed the amendments “will make funding justification for local landowners wanting to fence their land and undertake riverbank restoration work more difficult”.
However, the State Government has used the original draft plan to identify new funding proposals through the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, and NSW Maritime has completed a draft boating management plan, which should be released for public comment in the near future.
Mrs Mason claimed council had missed an opportunity to “demonstrate community leadership and promote proper management of the Shoalhaven River”.
“Proper management of the Shoalhaven River was identified back in 1999 by Commissioner Crawford after an independent inquiry was conducted,” Mrs Mason noted.
“Indeed, only after considerable lobbying by the oyster growers in late 2007 has council finally given support to this valuable local industry.”
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