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Emergency dredging of the channel is now underway – but there is no firm completion date. Emergency dredging of the channel is now underway – but there is no firm completion date. Featured
24 September 2018 Posted by 

EMERGENCY DREDGING LACKS URGENCY

Businesses fed up with channel inaction
T
ERRY COLLINS
SO, the emergency dredging of the Ettalong channel, which has now been closed for months, is about half-way through.


And the State government has coughed up just over $1.2M, to be matched dollar for dollar by Central Coast Council, for the development of a long-term plan to prevent siltation of the vital waterway. That’s good news, right?
 
Not really, according to a meeting of more than 300 businesspeople and residents held on September 18 at Diggers Ettalong.
 
Businesses in Ettalong and surrounding suburbs, fed up with the huge financial impact of the channel closure, say things just aren’t happening quickly enough and communication on where matters stand is muddy.
 
The emergency dredge, funded to the tune of $660,000 by the state government, is still ongoing, with a completion date likely in the next few months, but the rate of work at the discretion of the contractor.
 
Plan is unclear
 
And just how the combined funding pool of $2.4M is to be used to come up with a long-term plan is unclear.
 
The siltation of the channel has been a major bone of contention for many years, with the former Gosford Council (and now Central Coast Council) firm in the view that keeping the channel open should be the responsibility of the State government.
 
Twice in recent years, it has taken the closure of the channel for the council to match the government dollar for dollar in dredging operations.
 
And the business community in and around Ettalong wants to make sure firm plans are put in place to prevent another closure in the future.
 
Diggers CEO Bill Jackson said it was disappointing that State government representatives weren’t on hand to provide an update on the emergency dredging at the meeting.
 
“It became abundantly clear that there is very little information available about the current state of play,” Mr Jackson said.
 
And while Mayor Jane Smith welcomed the State government funding under the Rescuing Our Waterways program, she said council’s $1.225M share was not included in this year’s budget and would “need to be found in other areas”.
 
“The devil is in the detail of how best to undertake this dredging exercise in cooperation with the State Government and how we will now use the sand to renourish nearby beaches,” Cr Smith said.
 
“We are willing to work through a long-term solution for our community.”
 
Long term solution
 
Mr Jackson said plans for a long-term solution to the regular siltation of the channel needed to be more concrete.
 
The meeting called on the council and the State government to work on a sustainable long-term plan for keeping the channel clear and preserving beaches fronting Broken Bay and Ettalong Channel, informed by professional hydrographic analysis.
 
It also demanded the two tiers of government devise and communicate a clear scope of works for the emergency dredge and longer-term maintenance and that they engage service providers who would work efficiently and communicate progress.
 
It called for the establishment of a steering group or stakeholder forum to communicate plans, actions and results and receive feedback accordingly.
In other words, the community wants clear communication on just how the $2.4M of council and government funding is going to be spent to provide a permanent solution.
 
Even Robertson Federal Liberal MP Lucy Wicks has bought into the debate, urging the State government and Central Coast Council to “do whatever it takes to solve this issue now”.
 
“I am calling for additional funding and ongoing consultation with our local community until the dredging is done. Enough is enough. Let's get it done,” Mrs Wicks told Federal parliament.

 



editor

Michael Walls
Publisher
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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