Beacon Hill has brighter outlook

THERE may be brighter views ahead for visitors to Beacon Hill, following a trip to the well-known Coffs Harbour coastal lookout by senior staff from the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades said the department was being very co-operative in assisting council to seek an outcome to the gradual loss of views, which has led to complaints from residents, visitors and marine rescue officials.

“We are after a plan that will allow vision for the Marine Rescue Unit and for tourism,” the mayor said.

“And it is not just Beacon Hill – at Boambee Headland you used to be able to see the township of Sawtell, including the main street, and you can’t do that now.”

He said the council was interested in lopping vegetation, not killing trees.

Cr Rhoades said he had spoken to the director-general of DECCW and a DECCW section head had come to Coffs Harbour and had been taken to the Marine Rescue operations room so the department was fully aware of the situation.

The council’s director of city services, Ben Lawson, said last month the council had commissioned a study some time ago identifying threatened species which would be impacted by clearing.

He said to progress the matter the council needed to produce a species impact statement (SIS) that would assess the impacts of the work and that the SIS would have to be approved by DECCW as well as the federal environmental authorities.

“In view of the significant cost of preparing the SIS and the uncertainty of approval, council has not progressed the SIS at this stage, but is currently assessing the viability of doing so,” Mr Lawson said.

Following the meeting with DECCW representatives last week, Mr Lawson said the council was now preparing environmental assessment information to discuss with DECCW, probably within a fortnight.

“Once council has received their feedback, we will be in a position to determine whether we need to produce the Species Impact Statement,” Mr Lawson said.

The matter has been made more urgent by a request from the Marine Rescue Unit that the council pay for raised CCTV cameras to allow them to peer above the foliage, a project estimated to cost about $20,000.

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