Council blocks key rivers funding
LISMORE Council is effectively thumbing its nose at the State Government by refusing to fund and implement an Estuary Management Plan.
During a Council budget workshop on Wednesday night staff recommended that the $30,000 project not be funded, despite a requirement by the government that all local governments implement estuary plans.
When this was questioned by councillors an agreement was reached to include the plan, which had taken four years to develop, in the 2011/12 budget.
But that’s a year too late, said Richmond Valley County Council floodplain services manager Michael Wood, who is the project leader.
He said Ballina and Richmond Valley councils, through which the river system also runs, have already agreed to fund their share, and the County Council will also kick in a similar amount.
The government will match the councils dollar-for-dollar, creating a $240,000 project.
However Lismore’s position now puts it in doubt.
The Richmond River system, that includes the Wilson River, is one of the last in the state to have a plan to repair much of the damaged done to its sensitive estuaries.
“The funding application from the State Government is for next year, not the year after. Ballina and Richmond Valley have already shown their mettle,” Mr Wood said.
“In my view it just needs to happen. Under such a big (Lismore) budget it’s a small item but an important one.”
Among other items in the plan, which cost $400,000, to develop, Coral trees that line the area’s river banks would be removed.
The trees, which are a serious weed, have a shallow root system and do not hold the soil together. They eventually fall taking the bank with it, widening the river.
Lismore’s general manager Paul O’Sullivan told the budget workshop that it would be possible for the County Council to start work in other local council areas while it waited another year for Lismore’s contribution for the project.
However, Mr Wood said this risked the State Government grant.