MAJOR changes to the zoning of the shire’s waterways are being proposed by Sutherland Shire Council.
Its draft local environmental plan proposes three zones: E1 national parks and nature reserves; W2 recreational waterways for the lease areas comprising the existing commercial marinas; and, W1 natural waterways for the remainder of the waterways.
W2 zone permits permanent mooring in mooring pens, with vessels in a fixed position, and marinas. These are prohibited in the W1 zone.
The W2 zone also permits boat launching ramps, kiosks, marinas and boatsheds over the water.
The draft LEP would allow the pens only in Gunnamatta Bay, Burraneer Bay, Yowie Bay and on the eastern side of Kangaroo Point.
But the staff recommendation was rejected by the majority of councillors, with Cr Johns recommending removing the prohibition of pontoon moorings, pens, launching ramps, marinas, kiosks and boatsheds within the W1 natural waterways zone.
“The council feels that rather than have a blanket ban on appropriate development in W1 zones, which could impact on the recreational amenity of the residents of the shire, the council should consider proposals for mooring pens and marinas on their merit in accord with a sensible environmental management of our waterways,” Cr Johns said.
“In essence the council felt that the balance in the draft policy wasn’t right.
“To ensure that there is a level of appropriate environmental management coupled with an ability for shire residents to enjoy recreation on our waterways the council will develop a development control plan coupled with the new LEP objectives to ensure good environmental outcomes are balanced with our residents being able to enjoy our waterways.”
Cr Peter Scaysbrook, who opposed the recommendation, said mooring pens, boatsheds over water and private marinas were foreign to the shire but under the proposals they could be be built along the Georges and Woronora rivers as well as Port Hacking.
“The environmental effects of these changes have been completely ignored,” he said. “The effect on vital seagrasses that sustain fish stocks needs to be the subject of expert appraisal.
“These changes would remove the balance between the public who use the waterways, and those that live along them. They would effectively ruin the view of the shoreline from the waterway.”
The council staff report said mooring pens would allow far greater density of vessels than swing moorings.
It also had significant environmental concerns about mooring pens or marinas causing overshadowing of sea grasses, loss of fish nurseries, restricted access of public land and obstruction of navigation routes.
Mooring pens seen to be more eco-friendly
MOORING pens have ecological advantages compared with the traditional swing mooring, the Royal Motor Yacht Club Port Hacking vice-commodore Stephen Hourigan believes.
The club’s $3 million floating marina opened in April, 2012 with 64 mooring pens. It is the largest floating concrete marina in Sutherland Shire.
‘‘We met the ecologist requirements and RMS and NSW Fisheries requirements in designing the marina,’’ Mr Hourigan said.
Mr Hourigan recently explained to Sutherland Shire Council the advantages of moorings pens compared with swing moorings.
‘‘I explained the advantages of a floating marina which creates its own ecosystem.
‘‘A swing mooring involves a chain on a block which sits on the seabed and as the wind blows and the boat moves around 360 degrees it harms the seabed and the ecosystem,’’ he said.
‘‘A mooring pen has piles of 400 to 500 millimetres in diameter and as the sea growth accumulates on those piles under the surface of the water it actually attracts fish and promotes feeding.
‘‘Besides this, it frees up open water space to make the channels more navigable.’’
What do you think of the proposed waterways zones?
Moor debate: The Royal Motor Yacht Club is one of the few locations in the shire with mooring pens for its vessels. Picture: Lisa McMahon
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