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Council gives in over dredging

Gosford Council has given in to the State Government and agreed to match State funding of $250,000 to dredge the Ettalong channel.

Greens councillor Cr Peter Freewater moved a motion at council's meeting on July 7 to take shared responsibility with the State Government.

The decision to commit funds and expedite the dredging was supported by councillors Terri Latella, Jim McFadgen, Vicki Scott and Laurie Maher.

Cr Freewater said the decision was "a genuine victory" for the local community.

"This has been a long fight and I've put a couple of noses out of joint along the way but I'd do it all again if I had too," Cr Freewater said.

"The lives and livelihood of the community should never be put at risk for political point scoring.

"This is a significant victory for the community."

According to Cr Freewater, the dredging will address the "dog-leg" that has developed adjacent to the rocks at the eastern end of Lobster Beach in the channel.

"This dog-leg was pushing vessels closer to the rocks and making it almost impossible for the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol to tow boats back into Brisbane Water," Cr Freewater said.

"The removal of this sand will straighten the channel and increase the speed of tidal flows past this point.

"This should scour and deepen the channel on either side where the restricted channel has resulted in shallowing."

Cr Freewater said Gosford Mayor Cr Chris Holstein had given him his word that a rescission motion would not be lodged to reverse the decision.

Cr Holstein, who voted against the motion, said the council would be "flying blind" in agreeing to contribute funding since there were a number of other locations within Brisbane Water that needed dredging.

"Other areas of concern have been identified in the report," Cr Holstein said.

"However, we do not yet have costing and priority which still needs to be determined.

"If we go ahead with this we will be flying blind in what might be additional costs."

According to a report prepared by council staff, NSW Maritime identified navigational issues in a number of locations in the Brisbane Water Estuary.

The report stated that "management of sedimentation is an issue beyond the entrance channel".

"In addition to the development of the Brisbane Water Management Study and draft Management Plan, Cardno Lawson and Treloar have been engaged to expand the Brisbane Water dredging Coastal Lake Assessment and Management study completed in February last year to investigate additional dredging options and study areas," the report stated.

"The development of sub Coastal Lake Assessment and Management study for the various sites where navigational and sedimentation issues occur will allow for an assessment of the benefits, potential environmental impacts, and feasibility of managing sedimentation at each site by methods including dredging."

The council's director of city services Mr Stephen Glen recommended continued monitoring of the channel.

However, the Central Coast Division of Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol has welcomed the decision to dredge.

"The problems faced by the council in finding the financial resources necessary for all the public works needed on the Coast are appreciated," Coastal Patrol public relations officer Mr Richard Manning said.

"As a result, this allocation is doubly welcome.

"We are sure that all members of the local boating community using the entrance will be supportive of the decision.

"It will ensure continued safety of access for all users.

"We look forward to early action now that the matching funds are available."

Cr Freewater said it was pleasing to see the support of the local community throughout the past year.

"The maintenance dredging will not only make the channel safe again but will prove a boon for local businesses with a return of charter vessels and recreational boaters to Brisbane Water," Cr Freewater said.

"We will see a return of chartered tourist vessels and recreational boaters from Sydney and beyond and other flow on benefits to the local economy.

"A navigable channel will provide added job security for thousands of people on the Central Coast.

"Brisbane Water is the jewel of Gosford.

"We need to keep it healthy but we also need to make it accessible so we can all enjoy it and profit from it."

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