Plan to dredge dangerous Richmond River bar at Ballina
PLANS for a "one-off" dredging of the dangerous Richmond River bar at Ballina are moving forward, with up to 30,000 tonnes of sand expected to be removed.
The proposal is to achieve a 4m depth clearance at low tide across a 100m wide channel.
In 2011, when the bar was at its shallowest, it was just 2.6m deep.
Removed sand will be placed at the southern end of Lighthouse Beach near the breakwall, to encourage nourishment of the beaches further north.
The Port of Ballina Taskforce has actively pushed for the river entrance to be dredged.
Taskforce member and environmental engineer James Foster said the taskforce had received a letter from NSW Public Works, via Ballina Shire Council, explaining it was preparing a Review of Environmental Factors on behalf of the Department of Primary Industries for the "one-off" dredge.
He said it was a "brilliant move".
"I have a balanced view on the value of a one-off dredge; I don't think it is a long term solution but I value it as a trial," he said.
"It's better than doing nothing and it will give us some data. We'll know how long it lasts ... but the weather is the one big factor that we can't control."
The plans have also been welcomed by Ballina Fishermen's Coop general manger, Phil Hilliard.
"Our trawlers were going out, on average, 150 nights a year, but now they're down to about 82," he said.
"Previously all the discussions (surrounding the safety of the bar) have been about finding a permanent solution, but now it looks like we'll do a one-off dredge and see what happens. Dredging may not be the solution, but let's give it a go."
The REF will identify the "potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed works ... and determine whether the proposal will result in a significant impact".
Ballina Shire Council general manager Paul Hickey said the dredging proposal had the "full support of council and our business community and we look forward to the project proceeding as quickly as possible".