Silt a major concern for many

SAND, lots of sand was on the minds of the small crowd that gathered to meet the Minister for Lands at Coffs Harbour yesterday.

The steady and relentless silting up of the harbour by drifting sand is affecting most uses of the harbour, with one woman telling the Minister, Tony Kelly, she could now stand where she once dived into 30 feet of water.

Mr Kelly said he was aware of the problem and agreed that a permanent solution was needed. He said it had been suggested to him that work on the southern breakwater could be an engineering solution.

The Department of Lands says it is important to establish a clear set of planning guidelines so that government can invite industry to bring forward detailed designs based on market feasibility, including cost-effective solutions to the sand in-fill.

Mr Kelly left those listening to him yesterday with the impression funding for sand management would have to come from harbour land leasing fees.

Anxiety about the prospect of more development on the Foreshores and consultation with Aboriginal people was also high on the vocal of many yesterday.

Mr Kelly refuted accusations that Lands was ignoring public responses to past proposals for development, saying last year's Harbourside Concept Plan had been an extra level of public consultation above what was required.

Responses to that plan showed that people were overwhelmingly opposed to large-scale development east of the railway line, although it showed many people favoured some small changes.

The Minister said the new Draft Plan of Management plan was not in detail.

The length of leases negotiated with developers would be flexible and would depend on each proposal and what level of community benefit would be offered by the lessees, with those prepared to provide more benefits given longer leases to get their money back.

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