STRONGER COUNTRY COMMUNITY GRANTS
It was pleasing to travel around the Shire with State MP Melinda Pavey to announce the Building Stronger Country Communities funding. It has helped some of our most worthy projects get financial support to assist them with new infrastructure or to carry out urgent maintenance. The funding was made available from the sale of the publically owned State poles and wires and it was great to see some of that money being returned to the Bellingen Shire residents.
Fully funded projects are: Dorrigo Tennis Club Improvements; Urunga Boardwalk Upgrade Stage 1; Urunga Inclusive Pathways Project with partly funded projects being: Bellingen Memorial Hall Improvements; Coronation Park Redevelopment; Mylestom Path and Surf Club Project and Dorrigo to Dangar Falls Pathway Project.
It was not so pleasing to receive the news about the impending rejection of our gateway proposal to protect our residents and waterways from the impacts of industrialised/intensive Blueberry farms. It was especially perplexing to hear the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) state that “insufficient justification was provided by Council for the proposed changes”.
This was in light of three independent scientific studies carried out by Southern Cross University that highlighted high levels of runoff of fertilisers (nitrates and phosphorus) and sediments from blueberry farms in Bucca Bucca Creek and Hearns Lake. These studies also suggested that this could be helped by the very things the Bellingen Council was asking the blueberry farms in our LGA to put in place such as observing buffer zones to watercourses. The IPC finding was so personally frustrating because it highlighted the inability (under current legislation) of Local Government to have any power to protect their own waterways from a genuine threat. The waterways in our Shire are crucial as this is the source of our drinking water. It also supports our tourism and agricultural industries and provides our residents with productive fisheries and clean places to swim and enjoy.
REVERSE VENDING MACHINE
The Connell Park RVM has been in place now for around two months. In this time the average daily usage has been 3,037 units and a total of 200,456 units. While it is great to see this service being well used, there is still a large amount of general rubbish being left behind on the weekend. I remind residents that general household waste needs to be taken to a Waste Transfer Station or your domestic pickup service.
Council is actively working with the other member Councils in the Mid North Coast Joint Organisation (Kempsey and Port Macquarie) on a range of projects including community resilience, bridges, weeds and advocacy. As part of this, we were pleased to host a visit from senior staff in the NSW Premier & Cabinet, Planning and the Public Service Commission to advocate around key projects and priorities for our Shire.
Cr Dominic King
17 October 2018