Hearnes lake makes waves

HEARNES Lake Estuary Draft Management Study and Plan was challenged this week by a landowner and his consultant.

Peter Darby, the owner of a major land parcel in the Hearnes Lake area and consultant engineer Chris Thomas addressed Coffs Harbour City councillors at Thursday's council meeting.

Mr Darby said he had not been part of the consultation process for the study and plan and could find no reference in them to the work of his 'highly regarded' consultants.

He asked councillors to defer public exhibition of the documents in order to consider further information.

Mr Thomas said the plane relied heavily on unpublished documents and he was not convinced that all relevant available science on estuary management had been considered. He said there appeared to have been very limited community consultation and he was not convinced of the technical merit of some of the recommendations in the draft plan.

In response to questions by Crs John Arkan and Cr Mark Graham, Mr Darby said he believed he was the major landowner in the area and he believe an application to the Department of Planning was for 280 houses on his land. Cr Mark Graham and Cr Rodney Degens urged councillors to support protection of natural assets. Councillors moved to approve the exhibition of the draft Hearnes Lake Estuary Management Study and Plan for public exhibition, but extended the exhibition period from 28 to 56 days.

Director of city services Jason Gordon said a lot of the points brought up during discussion of the draft plan by councillors would emerge and be resolved as a result of the public consultation process. Staff said extensive consultation with landholders was carried out in 2004-05.

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