The dredging of North Creek has many potential benefits, including making the waterway more navigable.
The dredging of North Creek has many potential benefits, including making the waterway more navigable. Jay Cronan

Council to study dredging costs

A SCOPING study could soon be undertaken to determine the cost of dredging Ballina's North Creek.

The study - expected to cost about $5000 - would identify the research available and the research that is still needed, as well as providing a more accurate estimate of the costs of obtaining dredging approval.

Ballina Shire Council says the dredging of North Creek has "many potential benefits, including making the waterway more navigable and creating a sand stockpile for future land development and infrastructure projects".

Alternatively the sand could be used for beach renourishment.

Social and economic benefits include improved accessibility to allow increased boating, fishing and other tourism-related activities.

In order to be able to dredge the creek, the council would first need to obtain a commercial dredging licence from the Department of Primary Industries.

Council staff and Phil Hilliard from the Ballina Fishermen's Co-op met with a DPI representative last month to discuss the issues.

The application for a licence will need to consider matters such as:

The impact on the overall estuary and the Ballina bar.

Flow-on impacts upstream and environmental impacts.

Whether the sand would be used for fill or would be returned to the estuary or beach.

The cost of conducting all necessary feasibility and environmental studies to obtain the licence could be any- where between $50,000 and $200,000.

The council will make a decision at this month's meeting on whether to approve the $5000 for the scoping study.

If the study is done, a further report will be presented to council to determine whether to proceed with an application for a licence for the dredging of North Creek.

Meanwhile the State Government has approved funding for feasibility studies on the dredging of the Ballina Bar and the Ballina trawler harbour.

Findings of the study on the bar should be available by the end of this month, with the trawler harbour study due to be finished by the end of April.



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