The South Eastern Times : February 23rd 2017
NEWS 7 Beach access granted THE “green light” has been given to build a new access point at one of Robe’s most popular beaches. Approval for the work at Fox Beach was granted by the District Council of Robe at its February monthly meeting after it considered a report from its chief executive Roger Sweetman. Although he supported the project, Councillor John Enright said a staff report and a formal council decision was not warranted. In the view of Cr Enright, this was an example of micro-management and the matter should have been resolved by the council executive. “This is just the general business of council,” Cr Enright said. In his report, Mr Sweetman said the constructed beach access to Fox Beach had been damaged last winter. Mr Sweetman said the council has allocated funding in this year’s budget to install a new beach access to Fox Beach. “However, there has been some conjecture and discussion as to the location of this access,” Mr Sweetman said. “Council members have inspected the site on numerous occasions. “The dunes at Fox Beach suffered considerable damage during the last winter with the depth of dune being significantly reduced considerably which has left the dunes very fragile. “Another winter of storms that similar to 2016 could result in the loss of portion of these dunes which would then place the road way and residences along the Esplanade in this area under threat from sea water inundation.” He said it would not be wise for council to consider placing another access through the dunes. “Rather council should reconstruct and repair the existing access and place dune fencing on the seaward side of the dunes to ensure that people do not haphazardly walk over the dunes,” he said. “It is proposed to replace the existing ramp with a constructed raised ramp similar to the beach access points at Long Beach (which will reduce the trip hazards) and then repair the steps and realign them to run parallel to the dunes and bury the foot of the steps into the sand. “This action will as to reduce the damage to the steps from future storm surge and prevent a large drop-off from occurring as the sand level on the beach moves up and down.” Gas alternative push LIMESTONE Coast campaigners against fracking visited the South Australian Parliament this week to lobby Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis in support of solar thermal technology as a viable alternative to unconventional gas. Highbank winemaker Dennis Vice, Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council chair Pete Bissell, Limestone Coast Protection Alliance chair and farmer Merilyn Paxton and Robe District Council Mayor Peter Riseley travelled to Adelaide for the meeting. Ms Paxton said the group met with the minister on Monday to convey a firm “no” to gas mining and a “yes” to solar technologies. “We conveyed our support for a concentrated solar thermal plant at Port Augusta,” she said. She said solar thermal can deliver power when needed and provide baseload energy. “It will provide much-needed competition, create jobs and put South Australia at the forefront of CleanTech industries,” Ms Paxton said. Ms Paxton and the Limestone Coast Protection Alliance has long campaigned to keep the South East free from invasive gasfield mining. “We made clear our request we want a ban on unconventional gasfields in our region,” she said. “Last year, a review of 685 research papers points to risks to water, air and health. “Our region’s water, wine and agricultural industries are too important to imperil.” Mr Vice said the area should not be put at risk and its “clean and green” credentials added to the appeal of premium produce in the South East. “Our message is that gas drilling is a pipe dream, because we are now connected to the high gas prices in East Asia,” he said. “No amount of drilling here can change the price of gas in Asia, so why put the Limestone Coast at risk when we now have the option of reliable concentrated solar thermal plants that can be built in 20 months.” Robe Mayor Peter Riseley said he represented 96pc of people in his community opposed to gasfields. “We are pleased Mr Koutsantonis has accepted our invitation to visit our members in the Limestone Coast and to hear their concerns about the shale gas industry,” he said. www.thesoutheasterntimes.com.au Wasted opportunity A SOUTH East council is unlikely to follow the example of the Wattle Range and Grant councils with respect to waste management. A proposed system that would allow residents of the Blue Lake city to dispose of up to four trailer loads of hard rubbish free of charge each year has been deemed unfeasible by Mount Gambier City Council. Council’s operational services committee received a report outlining a financial model and predicted outcomes, but concluded the proposal was not financially or environmentally sound. The report suggested each free pass would allow up to one cubic metre of waste (a standard 6x4 trailer loaded 460mm in height) to be disposed of free, with council paying the posted gate charge at Sandyridge Landfill in Compton. Council moved to consider options for a material recovery facility before making any commitment to a free waste service. Mount Gambier resident Loren Tye said a refuse and recycling voucher system would ultimately promote a cleaner town. “I don’t understand, the voucher system works in neighbouring council areas,” Ms Tye said. Brigades in decline COUNTRY Fire Service (CFS) volunteer numbers are at an all-time low in the South East with brigades struggling to attract young people to give back to their community. With the contingent of firefighters in the region ageing, CFS crews are more desperate for people to join than ever before, according to a spokesperson for the organisation. CFS Kingsely group officer Grant Fensom, of Port MacDonnell, said the brigades in his district have gained no new volunteers throughout the latest fire season. “We have gained no-one and we really want to see numbers go in the other direction to what they are currently,” Mr Fensom said. “One of the reasons I took on the role of group officer is to try and boost membership levels of brigades within my district.” Mr Fensom said he was exploring ways to entice people to join the brigades. “I am currently discussing with people at state level about what we can do to encourage people to join the CFS,” Mr Fensom said. “There isn’t really a way to put it without sounding rude, but it just seems people don’t want to give back to their community.” A shortage of volunteers presents a danger to the whole community as it impacts on the response time of crews when an incident occurs. “Our response time can be dragged out because we can’t find people close enough to attend,” Mr Fensom said. “We will always find someone to respond even- tually, but a shortage of volunteers definitely presents a threat, particularly when it comes to bushfires.” In the past, emergency service workers have complained about having to pay a levy when they are giving up their own time to volunteer for the services. “People used to jump up and down about it, but that seems to have gone away in recent times,” Mr Fensom said. “I don’t think it is a reason people don’t want to join.” Mr Fensom said a subsidy to the levy for volunteers could potentially entice people to join, but it could also produce a negative effect. “Do we then attract the wrong sort of people to join?” he said. Mr Fensom said the rewards involved in being a CFS volunteer should be enough to encourage people to join. Visit www.cfs.sa.gov.au for details on how to become a volunteer firefighter. “We often take the kids to look at wildlife in the pines and there are piles of hard rubbish dumped everywhere and it’s mostly materials that can be recycled.” Mount Gambier City Council will be presented with a proposal for a material recovery facility and is scheduled to workshop the idea in early March. ILLEGAL DUMPING DISGUST: Mount Gambier ratepayer Loren Tye believes a proposed refuse/recycling voucher system would reduce the amount of illegal dumping in pine forests on the outskirts of the city. 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