Environment issues on agenda

PLANS for a high-speed jet boat providing sightseeing tours of the Tweed River seem likely to dominate Tweed Shire Council's meeting on Tuesday.

But that won't be the only environmental controversy brought to the fore.

The council's approval at its last meeting for a Telstra mobile phone tower off Fraser Drive, Tweed Heads South, is also up for debate again, with three councillors including the mayor seeking to have the decision rescinded.

The debates and the voting are set to be even more critical because Cr Kevin Skinner won't be present.

That will leave six councillors. In the event of a tied vote, Mayor Joan van Lieshout will have the casting vote.

Cr Skinner, along with Cr van Lieshout and Greens Party councillor Katie Milne, signed the rescission motion seeking to overturn approval of the Telstra phone tower.

More than 100 people had objected to the tower on the grounds of its unsightliness and potential radiation health affects on children attending nearby schools or people playing on nearby sports grounds.

Without Cr Skinner to vote on the rescission motion, it will still take a change of heart by one of the councillors who voted to approve the tower for the motion to be successful, along with the mayor's casting vote.

Cr van Lieshout will face a decision on whether the matter is important enough to override a tradition that the mayor's casting vote should maintain “the status quo”, whatever that is seen to be.

Some observers are tipping that any decision on the proposed jet boat tours of the Tweed River might again be deferred, this time for a study on the effects of speed boats on the river.

But that could open the way for Pena Jet Boat Rides to take their application to the NSW Land and Environment Court because the council has taken too long to make a decision.

Cr Milne has also lodged a notice of motion calling for the NSW Maritime Authority to “urgently impose a maximum speed limit of 40km/h for motorised activity on all Tweed waterways.”

That would slow down any jet boat tours, if ever implemented.

Just in case any councillors are feeling the pressure surrounding their decisions might be too much, they also must decide whether to send any of their colleagues to a training course.

The two-day course at Coffs Harbour in late March costs $88, covering lunch on both days, dinner and accommodation.

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