Lake boaties fear lack of jetty upgrades

LAKE Macquarie boaties fear a proposed new zoning for the lake will lead to a ban on jetties.

They are concerned the zoning will prevent jetties from being built and old ones from being improved.

A council statement said ‘‘jetties will continue to be permitted with consent’’ but boat owners fear the new zoning would prevent them from getting that consent.

The Boats Owners Association Hunter branch said it would fight the council’s plan to give the lake a ‘‘natural-waterway zoning’’.

The zone was the highest level of environmental protection, but would allow fishing, boating and recreational use of the lake.

The NSW government initially directed the council to give the lake a secondary environmental zoning, called ‘‘recreational waterway’’, which promotes water-based recreation and boating.

But after lobbying from the council administration and councillors, the government agreed to allow the higher zoning.

The council intends to call for public comment in September.

Kilaben Bay resident and boatie Graeme Knott said a natural-waterway zoning would strengthen the council’s capacity to reject new jetties and jetty improvements.

Mr Knott said the council was ‘‘dead against jetties’’.

‘‘They’re hard enough to get at the moment,’’ Mr Knott said.

A council submission to the department in November 2010, when it was lobbying for a natural-waterway zoning, raised concerns about further development on the lake.

‘‘The lake is unlikely to be able to support any significant increase in the number of marinas, jetties and moorings approved on the lake, without adverse impact on its environmental and scenic qualities,’’ it said.

Mr Knott believed the planned zoning would ‘‘reduce enjoyment of the lake’’.

The council statement said one of the zone’s objectives would be to ‘‘provide for recreational use of Lake Macquarie and its waterways as an important environmental, social and economic asset’’.

It said moorings, except

commercial ones, would be allowed without consent if they complied with the Roads and Maritime Services’ mooring management plan.

Mr Knott said there was no need for the higher zoning because the lake had recovered since authorities banned commercial fishing and spent $20million to improve its health.

Boats Owners Association Hunter chairman Frank Downing said the council’s zoning proposal contained ‘‘hidden concerns for the boating community, water-based businesses and those with waterfront property’’.

The association wants the lake zoned as a recreational waterway, which Mr Downing said was ‘‘more in keeping with its principal use for boating and long-established developments along its shoreline’’.

The association was ‘‘not against conservation’’ of the lake, but wanted ‘‘a balanced approach to its management’’.

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