UNCERTAIN: Michael Simmons and Geoff Butterworth are worried about the Tweed Shire Council's plan to manage the Tweed River.
UNCERTAIN: Michael Simmons and Geoff Butterworth are worried about the Tweed Shire Council's plan to manage the Tweed River. Scott Davis

Council's Tweed River plan raises concerns in Tumbulgum

TUMBULGUM business owners are concerned Tweed Shire Council's 10 year Tweed River Estuary Management Plan will leave a lasting impact on their livelihoods if some areas of the river are restricted.

The plan, which will be placed on public exhibition in March, is aimed at creating a framework on balancing environmental, recreational and economic uses of the river.

Mount Warning Tours operator Michael Simmons said while he didn't think his low-impact water based business would be directly affected by the plan, other businesses relying on the river are worried they could be impacted.

"The Tweed River Estuary Management Plan is something that the area has needed... for a long time,” Mr Simmons said.

"There's been some good work done by (Tweed Shire Council).

"At this stage, particularly for places like Tumbulgum, (there's been) a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings of where the plan is going and some stakeholders, particularly the water skiers, wake boarders and jet skiers, are very worried (about) what that means for them and their lifestyle.”

Mr Simmons said after speaking with other water users, some stakeholders felt confused about the council's proposed character zones, which suggests introducing a restoration zone upstream from Murwillumbah and a conservation zone adjacent to Stotts Island.

"There's genuine fear amongst the community and some of those stakeholders about what the exclusion zones that may be recommended as part of the Tweed Estuary management plan will mean for the users, as well as the businesses and the villages that rely on the businesses that's associated with use of the river,” he said.

"It's important that there's real clarification and I think that will happen.

Tumbulgum newsagency owner Geoff Butterworth hoped the council would consider the potential impacts on restriction zones before making a final decision.

"Once they start shutting one part, then it keeps going down and hurts us,” Mr Butterworth said.

But the council's waterways program leader Tom Alletson said the focus of the management plan was to ensure river conservation was implemented while also allowing recreational usage to continue.

"Council doesn't make the decision on this,” Mr Alletson said, explaining the NSW Roads and Maritime Department would make the final decision about how to manage the Tweed River.

"We're effectively made responsible by the state government and directed to make long-term planning for the estuary,” he said.

"We have to strike a balance between conservation and use.”

He said a number of studies and community consultation had been undertaken to ensure the plan would be the best solution to protect the river.

"We've also based the proposal on a 400 response strong random phone survey and 800 response strong online survey,” he said.



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