THERE are renewed calls for dredging of the Richmond River after the notorious Ballina Bar was again overlooked despite funding for work at Brunswick Heads and Evans Head.
The State Government yesterday announced it would spend up to $1,15m dredging the Brunswick Heads boat harbour and river channel and the Evans River.
But pleas to dredge the notorious Ballina bar have gone unheard, despite repeated requests from the council and the Port of Ballina Taskforce.
In Evans Head yesterday morning Natural Resources, Lands and Water Minister Kevin Humphries and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis announced up to $550,000 to remove 30,000sqm of sand from the Evans River.
On Tuesday, Mr Humphries and Ballina MP Don Page announced $600,000 to dredge the Brunswick boat harbour and river channel.
They said the works would maintain navigation channels that were "critical to the operations of industry, the commercial fishing fleet and tourism charter vessels".
Meanwhile, Port of Ballina Taskforce member and local environmental engineer, James Foster, called on the Government to fund a one-off dredge of the Richmond River bar.
Mr Foster said a one-off dredging would help determine the "real cost", and whether it would have any long term benefits.
Dredging of the Richmond River bar has not occurred since the mid-1970s.
"Local trawler operators and many local recreational fishers understand the dangers that exist with any bar and Ballina is no different," Mr Foster said.
"However, there may be an opportunity to significantly improve the bar though a one-off dredge and, with the bar not having been dredged for many years, it would be interesting to see if there are long term safety benefits from dredging."
Mr Foster said maintenance dredging could improve the safety of the bar.
If not, a permanent sand bypass system - similar to the systems on the Tweed and Southport bars - might have to be considered.
Mayor David Wright said the council supported the idea of a one-off dredge, and had written to Ballina MP Don Page.