What began as a debate on shortlisting 29 “conservation significant” species for fauna management in Noosa Shire, and the selection of a ‘Noosa Nine’ grouping for priority action triggered an all-out war on a very different animal indeed, at Noosa Council’s General Committee meeting on March 13.
An expert panel was chosen to identify the 29 creatures and to nominate the Noosa Nine, which includes such threatened species as the Glossy Black Cockatoo, koalas and the Mary River Turtle, for protection and survival.
Cr Brian Stockwell wanted to increase the number to the ‘Noosa 10’ with the addition of the Mary River Cod, arguing that work on the turtle would be occurring anyway – but then he quantum-leapt to closing Teewah beaches at high tide and boosting enforcement in a zero-tolerance approach to stop 4WD vehicles from mounting the dunes to avoid the tides, and potentially destroying turtle hatchlings and nests.
And to have such a “beefed up” enforcement scheme in place by Easter, in four weeks’ time.
Cr Amelia Lorentson, who recently joined the working group looking at the circumstances of Teewah Beach and its “traffic” problems, said the group was handing down a report on its findings the day after Thursday’s Ordinary meeting.
And council CEO Scott Waters said to prepare arrangements and meet with police and beach rangers in time would potentially require environment department staff virtually downing tools on every other project to meet such a short deadline.
Anticipating the Teewah report, Cr Stockwell said he wanted council to go into a meeting “with a position”, arguing that council has been dithering on Teewah Beach action for years.
“We have never had an adopted position on this matter,” he said.
“We should be communicating council’s position, not the Teewah Working Group. We want a zero tolerance on the dunes.
“If I was on that working group I would want to know council is behind us.”
Cr Stockwell was successful in having the Mary River Cod included “as an iconic species for freshwater waterways, wetlands and riparian zone habitats”.
But councillors voted 5-2 to leave the Teewah dunes ban on the table until Thursday’s (March 16) Ordinary Meeting “to allow councillors to discuss budget implications”.
(Update by Alan Lander. March 17, 2023)
NOOSA Council has no ability, other than providing a personnel ‘presence’, in the management and policing of 4WDs camping at Teewah Beach.
But at its Ordinary meeting on March 16, it unanimously resolved to cooperate with appropriate enforcement bodies such as Parks and Wildlife and police to participate in education and information signage, pre-warning would-be beach users that a zero tolerance will be taken towards those who choose to drive over sensitive sand dunes to avoid getting stuck in the water.
It also sought for staff to begin negotiations with the relevant bodies by the coming Easter break.
The signage would advise of the beach’s closure during turtle nesting and hatching periods, relevant tide times and other circumstances, perhaps placed at the North Shore Ferry to advise visitors.
Once budgetary measures are in place, technology such as fixed and drone-mounted surveillance cameras are to be deployed.