Call for urgent dredging works
THE mayors of Ballina and Richmond Valley councils say they will consider applying for funding to dredge the entrances to the Richmond and Evans rivers.
Several recent accidents on the two river bars has prompted local fishermen, boaties and rescue organisations to call for dredging works as a matter of urgency.
Casino man Raymond Ensbey, 64, died after a boat overturned on the Ballina bar last month.
NSW Lands Minister Tony Kelly yesterday announced his department had put up $500,000 for dredging projects across NSW.
However, councils must match the cash in a 50-50 arrangement.
This will be very difficult for Richmond Valley Council, mayor Col Sullivan said.
“It’s certainly something we will look at,” he said.
“At the same time, finding half of the money will be difficult. Dredging is expensive.
“To do it properly, you really have to take the dredged material away, because moving it to another location is a waste of time.
“Environmentally, not everybody agrees with dredging.
“But the bar at Evans Head has been a constant worry for many years.
“We’re receiving very few complaints about it at the moment, but it obviously has to be watched.”
Despite saying his council was open to a 50-50 funding arrangement for dredging, Cr Sullivan said he still believed the project should be fully funded by the State Government.
“Councils have no spare money for these kind of things,” he said.
Ballina mayor Phillip Silver said he was ‘extremely keen’ to look at the offer.
He said dredging work was also needed in North Creek.
“We have concerns about North Creek because we are not getting the tidal flushing that we should and this has environmental impacts,” he said.
“And clearly we are worried about boats crossing the bar. It would be good if bigger boats could come in.
“We think dredging is very desirable and it is consistent with our plans for a new marina.”
The Ballina Coast Guard is also in favour of dredging at the entrance to the Richmond River.
Earlier this year, Commander Norm Lannoy expressed concerns about a sandbank that had started to form on the outer bar.
“The conditions are getting really bad. You really need to time it well if you’re crossing the bar,” he said.