Ballina Bar may finally be dredged
AFTER years of debate and campaigning the treacherous Ballina Bar may finally be dredged.
Member for Ballina, Don Page, has announced a tender process to examine the feasibility of dredging the bar.
It's believed four companies have entered the tender process, which will be finalised next week.
At least six boats have capsized on the bar this year and the Richmond River entrance has not been dredged since the 1970s.
Ballina Fishermen's Co-operative general manager Phillip Hilliard said he hoped the dredging could be fast-tracked.
"It's urgent from the perspective of the fishermen but it's more urgent that they do something to protect the weekend sailors who don't know the dangers. They're the people who are going to die."
Mr Hilliard said if the bar is not dredged commercial fishermen will have to abandon Ballina.
"I deal with the trawler guys every day and I know they're going through economic hell at the moment. Last financial year they worked 60 days out of a possible 220 because they couldn't cross."
It could take more than six months to get the State and Fed- eral environmental approvals required for dredging.
But Ballina Mayor Phillip Silver said the feasibility study is a great first step.
"It's very pleasing that the State Government is on the team and committed," he said "There is a legal process that has to be gone through and we hope that can be completed as expeditiously as possible."
In a separate announcement, Mr Page said $55,000 will be spent on upgrading the Cawarra Park boat ramp on North Creek along with $69,000 on a new boat ramp for West Ballina.
The State Government has also announced another consultation process to develop an environmental impact assessment on dredging the Ballina boat harbour.
Should Ballina's bar be dredged or left as is?