Boaties slammed over lake 'attitude'

LAKE Macquarie mayor Greg Piper has lashed out at boaties for opposing plans to give the lake a higher zoning.

‘‘It is disgraceful and ignorant in the extreme,’’ Cr Piper said.

Cr Piper said he would fight for the future of the lake.

‘‘While I’m around, I am not going to allow this lake to slip backwards,’’ he said.

He said the lake was dying before the state government and Lake Macquarie City Council spent $27million to revive it in the noughties.

The work improved water clarity in the lake by 96per cent and seagrass cover, which scientists say is the foundation of the lake’s ecosystem, by 25per cent in a decade.

Cr Piper said population increases would place increasing pressure on the lake.

He said boaties should ‘‘use, love and protect’’ the lake.

‘‘I think they should be lining up and supporting the environmental values of the lake,’’ he said.

‘‘We can’t afford to water down the hard-won gains we’ve made.’’

The council plans 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 Newcastle Herald reported last month that some boaties feared a proposed new zoning for the lake would lead to a ban on jetties.

They were concerned the zoning would strengthen the council’s ability to prevent jetties from being built and old ones from being improved.

Cr Piper said the new zone would ‘‘not disadvantage anybody or any craft’’.

Jetties would be ‘‘permitted with consent’’ under the new zone, but Cr Piper said there was a ‘‘logical conclusion to the number of jetties you can have’’.

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