50%+ shortfall needed to build shark observation tower

There are plans to build a shark observation tower at Sharpes Beach, Skennars Head.
There are plans to build a shark observation tower at Sharpes Beach, Skennars Head.

A SIGNIFICANT funding shortfall has been identified in plans to build a shark observation tower at one of the Ballina Shire's busiest beaches.

Ballina Shire Council has approval to build the tower at Sharpes Beach and received $39,000 in State Government funding for the work.

The money was allocated as part of the government's Shark Management Strategy.

But a report going to this week's council meeting explains that the cost to complete the project is about $85,000.

"Additional funding will be required for the project to be completed to a standard that will ensure its long term sustainability," the report states.

"There have been numerous regular sightings and catch and release events of target shark species directly off Sharpes Beach ... although it is a popular swimming and surfing beach with a growing local population, there is no permanent surf lifesaving facilities at the beach."

A new observation tower would "greatly improve" safety at the beach.

Approval to build the tower lapses at the end of October, and the existing grant money must be spent this year, so time is running out to find a solution.

The council report recommends writing to the State Government to ask for extra funding.

"Inability to complete the project that the funding was provided for may lead to it being withdrawn," the council report states.

"It is currently estimated that an additional $45,000 will be required to complete the project to the standard specified."

Councillors will vote on the matter at Thursday's council meeting.

Topics:  ballina shire council shark shark attack shark management strategy shark mitigation

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