Sand bypass deal veiled in secrecy

By Ed Southorn

TWEED MP Geoff Provest wants a review of the Tweed River Sand Bypass project and lifting of the "veil of sec-%recy" surrounding the sand-pumping contract.

Mr Provest yesterday said that NSW Climate Change, Environment and Water Minister Phil Koperberg had agreed to visit the Tweed to inspect the sand-pumping system and talk to%locals and community groups who are angry about erosion at Fingal and Duranbah beaches and the massive build-up of sand on the southern Gold Coast.

Mr Provest said Mr Koperberg's office was yet to determine the exact date for the visit, but it was likely to be%before the end of this year.

The planned visit follows questions from Mr Provest in Parliament asking the NSW government to explain how the sand-bypass contract was being monitored.

He also said he would raise concerns about the contract, agreed in 1999 between the NSW and Queensland governments and Gold Coast City Council with McConnell Dowell Constructors (Australia) Pty Ltd, when he meets Tweed Shire general manager Mike Rayner this week.

Tweed Shire provides management support under the terms of the contract, but exact financial details relating to McConnell Dowell, responsible for maintaining and operating the sand bypass until 2024, have never been publicly released.

Mr Provest said a sand-bypass management plan had recently been promised to Tweed Shire Council, but there were no assurances the plan would be made public.

"I'm concerned there seems to be a veil of secrecy about this sand-bypass contract," Mr Provest said.

"I don't like the attitude that this contract is locked in place for so long and there is nothing we can do about it.

"It is obvious the contract has failed to achieve what it set out to do. It was put in place to keep the Tweed bar navigable and to replenish sand on the Gold Coast.

"But there was no plan to degrade Fingal and Duranbah. And the perception was that the sand build-up on the Gold Coast would be washed away."

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