Lake Cathie Stakeholder Meeting
On 16th December, Camden Haven Chamber attended a meeting at Port Macquarie-Hastings Council (PMHC) with key stakeholders including Leslie Williams MP, Mayor Peta Pinson, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Crown Lands, Soil Conservation Service, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Revive Lake Cathie and Lake Cathie Progress Association present.
At the meeting, PMHC Natural Resource Manager Blayne West provided an update of where PMHC staff are at with addressing the current state of the Lake Cathie Lake Innes Estuarine System and its future.
The meeting focused on options in moving forward to ensure the long-term health of the entire Lake Cathie/Lake Innes estuarine system. It was acknowledged by all present that this is a priority issue for the community, and a complex one which requires all stakeholders to work together to achieve the best outcomes for the community and the estuarine system.
Following the decision to open Lake Cathie to the ocean, Council applied for a short-term licence for this to take place. However, Crown Lands considered Council’s 1995 Environmental Review in support of the licence application to be insufficient in its consideration of current environmental conditions and potential impacts of the proposed activities associated with the application and required more information before approval can be granted.
Mayor Peta Pinson said that applying to opening the lake during drought conditions was unique, as previous openings have been undertaken to mitigate the potential impacts of flooding.
“The extended drought is one of the factors contributing to the current state of the lake, and as a result additional ecological information needs to be compiled before a licence to open the lake might be received,” said Mayor Pinson.
“In the meantime, the stakeholder group is investigating alternative opening options and will meet again in the New Year to discuss these.”
Whilst options for a potential lake opening are investigated, Council is progressing with the development of a Coastal Management Program for the entire Lake Cathie/Innes estuarine system. This will look at all options for the ongoing future management of the system.
The Camden Haven Chamber appreciates the opportunity to meet with Council staff, key agency representatives and community groups to express the frustrations of the community and gain a clearer understanding of the factors that are causing delay to the artificial opening of the lake. The Chamber appreciates Councils willingness to consider alternative short-term solutions to restore the recreational values of the lake for our residents and visitors alike. We consider the development of the Coastal Management Program to be key to a holistic approach to the ongoing management the Lake Cathie/Lake Innes estuarine system and we look forward to working with Council to progress this in the new year.
A number of community pop-ups will occur in the new year, providing the community with the opportunity to ask questions, receive an update, and understand the complexities of the Lake Cathie/Innes estuarine system.
Photo credit: Brett Dolsen