More than 300 submissions were received for the much debated Draft River Murray (Corowa to Ovens River) Erosion Management Plan.
The Draft Murray River Erosion Management Plan, which was released by NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) on December 1 and closed for public consultation on February 28, recommended a trial ban on wake enhancing boats and activities including wakeboarding and wakesurfing on a 49km stretch of the Murray River between Bundalong and Corowa for three years, even up to five years.
An online petition trying to stop the proposed ban had also attracted over 7000 signatures in just eight weeks.
The Save Boating on the Murray River Group, which started the online petition that was sent to NSW Maritime Minister Melinda Pavey and various local state and federal politicians, aimed to shift the issue from erosion to improving and educating boat users on safety and etiquette on the water.
Concerns were raised by the group, residents and local businesses owners about the draft plan’s lack of direct scientific evidence on erosion caused from boating in the area and the plan’s failure to address socio-economic impacts from the proposed ban.
Concerns were also raised that further wake enhancing restrictions could eventually be enforced on the other areas along the Murray River.
MDBA head of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said that the three public information sessions (held in Bundalong, Yarrawonga and Corowa) were well attended and that conversations had were constructive.
“We heard from a range of community members, including local business owners, tourist operators, landholders, river users, council members and visitors. I would like to thank everyone who attended and for their direct feedback and input,” Mr Reynolds said.
“Three hundred and five submissions were received. This is a significant number, and shows the community was highly engaged and prepared to take the time to provide their views on the topic. We appreciate the time and effort everyone has taken writing their submissions.”
Roads and Maritime Principal Manager Southern Maritime, Michael Hammond, said there were a range of topics raised in the submissions received.
“The main topics raised related to business and the local economy, environmental concerns and outcomes and safety and amenity issues,” Mr Hammond said.
“Submissions are currently in the process of being consolidated, considered and responded to in a submissions report. We ask for patience, as this will take time given the range of topics covered and the high number of submissions.
“We want to get this right, and consider all the details and feedback provided, so it’s important not to rush this part of the process.
“As I said at the Corowa meeting, when the report has been fully drafted, the next step will be to have the stakeholder representatives on the River Murray Project Management Committee review and consider the different views, information, data and proposals.
“The committee will then advise the MDBA and Roads and Maritime of any possible changes and make recommendations influencing the current draft plan.
“Recommendations will then be considered for implementation by Roads and Maritime and the NSW Minister for Roads and Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.”
It is expected that the final plan will be finalised and implemented by June/July this year.
For more information about the draft plan and to view the feedback and comments left by community members directly on the interactive map is available via the following link: rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/south-coast/river-murray-erosion-management-plan/index.html.