Prev­elly break off Pro agenda

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Times News - Therese Col­man

Surf­ing WA has with­drawn its ap­pli­ca­tion to use Prev­elly’s Boat Ramps surf break this year and in 2019 for the Mar­garet River Pro in the World Surf League com­pe­ti­tion.

Af­ter an emo­tion-fu­elled com­mu­nity meet­ing at Mar­garet River Recre­ation Cen­tre last Thurs­day night, SWA act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Thirsk backed down on the ap­peal.

The pro­posal would have al­lowed the WSL to use Boat Ramps and Grace­town’s North­point for a max­i­mum of two days dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, in ad­di­tion to the al­ready ap­proved surf breaks Main­break and The Box.

Be­fore with­draw­ing the claim, Mr Thirsk said SWA was com­mit­ted to the en­vi­ron­ment, and any dam­age to the coast­line or dunes dur­ing the erec­tion of in­fra­struc­ture at ei­ther lo­ca­tion would be re­paired at the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s cost.

“We are mo­ti­vated to work with the com­mu­nity and we won’t back down from our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” he said.

“Any dam­age done, and we will pay for that with no ob­jec­tion.”

Surfrider Foun­da­tion’s Tracey Muir said SWA pre­vi­ously ig­nored the vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tion’s plea for help.

“We were in con­tact with (SWA) in the past, and you sim­ply dis­missed us,” she said. “You had no in­ter­est in hear­ing what we had to say. We won’t be held to ran­som by you, and let you do what you want.” The com­ments fol­low a fiery tone at the meet­ing, with many con­ser­va­tion­ists and re­cre­ational surfers against use of the two ex­tra breaks.

Prev­elly res­i­dent and en­vi­ron­men­tal vol­un­teer Genny Broad­hurst ques­tioned SWA’s man­age­ment plans and said dam­age to dunes dur­ing the event would take six years to re­pair.

“How does a cou­ple of bounc­ers and a strip of bunt­ing stop peo­ple ac­cess­ing the dunes?” she said.

“If some­one runs up the dunes to get a bet­ter look, and a bouncer runs up af­ter them, that’s dam­age done then and there. Re­gard­less of your of­fer to as­sist with re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, we don’t want the dam­age caused in the first place.”

Grace­town res­i­dents were also con­cerned the use of North Point at last year’s com­pe­ti­tion led to en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion.

Jen Stevens said pho­tog­ra­phers and event staff had caused ero­sion by ac­cess­ing the coast through scrub, and the com­mu­nity was left to re­pair the dam­age. Other res­i­dents were con­cerned the pub­lic­ity of North Point caused an in­flux of surfers to the re­gion, but this was dis­missed by Mr Thirsk, who said “evo­lu­tion of the sport and pop­u­la­tion growth” meant in­creased pop­u­lar­ity was in­evitable.

The use of North Point has been con­firmed for the 2018 and 2019 Drug Aware Pro but Mr Thirsk told the meet­ing: “we will def­i­nitely with­draw our ap­pli­ca­tion for Boat Ramps.”

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