The entrance to the boat ramp on Sunday where the sand build-up forced the ramp?s closure on Thursday.
The entrance to the boat ramp on Sunday where the sand build-up forced the ramp?s closure on Thursday.

Ramp rage

By DAVID MOASE

ANGRY boat users and anglers met on Sunday to discuss the latest closure of the harbour boat ramp, but Peter McNamara was not there.

Mr McNamara has sold his boat, partly in frustration at the regular closure of the ramp.

"It's just a waste of time owning a boat and trying to fish out of Coffs," Mr McNamara said.

"You would have lovely days for fishing but you could never get out because the boat ramp was closed. I was just sick of it."

Sunday's meeting, sparked by the boat ramp's closure since last week, attracted about 40 people at short notice, and called on the council to take more steps to improve the ramp and its surrounds.

Geoff Parker, the secretary of the Deep Sea Fishing section of the Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club, said the meeting called on Coffs Harbour City Council to invest in an excavator to clear blockages at the ramp more quickly.

"The ramp was closed last Thursday and it will be this Thursday until it can be used again," he said.

"The council doesn't want to put its new excavators into the saltwater, which is understandable, but if it had a second-hand excavator at its depot it would take only an hour or two to rectify blockages."

Deputy mayor Cr Ian Hogbin said he was keen to compare the costs of hiring and buying equipment to clear the boat ramp.

"The ramp users have grounds to be disappointed and I'm keen to see the costs involved with clearing the sand," he said.

"We need a permanent and reliable system in place so we can remove sand from the boat ramp with minimal delay."

The council's director of city services, Stephen Sawtell, said more than 55,000 cubic metres of sand was washed into the harbour each year and, while clearing the harbour was a State Government responsibility, the council spent up to $90,000 a year keeping the boat ramp clear.

"The question is, can council afford to keep spending money on the boat ramp?" Mr Sawtell said.

"Other people have raised the possibility that the cost of maintenance of the boat ramp be raised a different way, that it should be user pays."

Mr Sawtell said the temporary groyne, which was built late last year, had never been intended to stop silting.

"Whenever you have high seas it moves sand and the groyne was never going to be a solution to that. We will continually have to dredge to keep the ramp clear," he said.



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