Finally, a plan for a better river

Imagine our Noosa River has a giant dam built across it.  Not a concrete dam, but one just as solid…built of bureaucracy, indecision and stagnation.  This dam prevents us from fixing the river’s worsening problems.  It prevents Noosa Council from having a real say in the river that is our lifeblood.  It prevents us accessing millions of dollars in funds, simply because WE HAVE NO PLAN.

Finally a plan has emerged that some call “an elegant solution”.  For our Council, it’s a golden opportunity to actually do something that the vast majority of residents should be behind.  It’s a chance to shake off a lingering reputation for talking in circles.  

In simple terms, it involves the creation of a Conservation Park over a critical part of the river – the existing fish habitat areas.  State agencies would retain existing decision-making power, but Noosa Council could have a genuine place – alongside Government agencies – in managing the river. 

Importantly, it keeps faith with commercial and recreational activities by continuing the processes and governance that exist now.

Council and stakeholders have developed an updated version of the 2004 Noosa River Plan over the last 6 years. We are now being invited to provide our views on the draft by October 5.

Why has it taken six years, you might ask? The simple answer is that the use and health of our river are of great importance to so many in our community, and special interests can often make any change impossible.

Years of committee discussions and consultations, decades of inaction, have brought us to this junction…while the river’s health goes backwards like a slow growing cancer.

What’s needed to improve river management?

Lacking any real say, Council has failed time and again over the last 40 years, from the time it wanted to put a limit on the number of houseboats in the 1980s. A handful of State Government entities control the river, and they have never been willing to agree or engage with local wishes. Through all this our Council has been toothless.

New leadership in MSQ has recently seen genuine local engagement on boating issues in the lower reaches. The question for a long time has been how to get a legislative mechanism to ensure that all relevant State agencies and Council must sit at the same table to cooperate and integrate action on the important broader issues outside the lower reaches.

The answers are here in the reporting to Council.

“The draft Plan also includes an action to consider the establishment of a Conservation Park underthe Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld) across fish habitat areas to protect and improve the health,biodiversity and species’ habitats of the Noosa River.

“This would provide for a trust agreement and joint management plan with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. It would also help leverage funding and investment for wetland and riparian management, scientific monitoring and biodiversity interventions …

“The Conservation Park would explicitly recognise that the current fish habitat area regulations andmanagement principles continue to apply including ongoing commercial and recreational fishing,with Department of Fisheries having continued responsibilities for governing sustainable fishing.”

Is this Council prepared to dismantle the bureaucratic dam and leave a legacy that protects our river?

These are the words of Councillor Tom Wegener this week:

 “The community had demanded that we take action.  We cannot kick the can down the road on this one. The deadline was years ago.  It’s an emergency.  We have got to act now.”

What you can do:

Find out more about what’s on the table.  Here’s the full Council draft plan.

Or, Noosa Parks Association has a discussion paper on the issue that you may find useful.

We have only until Thursday 5 October to let Council know we support this draft plan, and we want to be known as the community that could finally agree on a plan to fix our river. Special interests will be having their say, it’s time for other residents to be heard and listened to.

If you care about our river, send your support for the plan to  by COB Thursday 5 October. Special interests will be doing just that, the silent majority can make a difference.


This Post Has One Comment

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    I have had a very quick read of the Noosa River Plan. What struck me was the lack of attention to the dreadful erosion of the Noosa Woodlands at the mouth of the river. My wife and I have been appalled at the continual erosion of the woodlands which has occurred at a rapid rate where council laid footpaths have collapsed and fallen into the river and goodness knows how many beautiful trees continue to be lost! It is a dreadful state of affairs and the Council must do something, and do something quickly otherwise this unique bushland will be lost forever.
    The woodland walk is used by hundreds of people every day and everyone you meet expresses alarm at what is occurring. It is a walk unique to Noosa!
    Recently there were signs erected to announce a sand dredging project to put more sand onto ‘doggy’ beach but after nearly a month of dredging with no apparent effect, the dredge disappeared. Trees were chainsawed and the result is an absolute mess where there has been no attempt to clear the tree rubbish that accumulated.
    The current situation is now dangerous for walkers with steep drops into the river. The signs that were put up to explain the works showed ‘sand plugs’ that would be established which we assumed were extensions of the existing sand bags which seem to have done a half decent job at preventing some of the erosion.
    Council needs to address this situation and make works to establish a permanent deep water channel for the river, much the same as the Gold Coast Council did with the Golf Coast seaway.
    We have a magnificent river and we need to look after it. The erosion at the mouth of the river needs to be addressed urgently and then the mooring of vessels in the river.
    In certain areas there should be no moorings whatsoever as the channel is too narrow, and live-aboard vessels must be prevented from emptying their black tanks into the river.
    To me and my friends, the lack of respect the Council has shown to our river is just not good enough. We don’t know whether it is the effect of the ‘green’ lobby preventing work that is just commonsense, or whether it is this ‘dam of bureaucratic departments’ that Noel refers to in his article, making sensible decision making impossible. It is time to make some sensible decisions that will be long-lasting before we lose the beautiful woodlands walk that tourists and locals love!
    John Neilson

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