Is the slipway slipping away?
THE boating community has reached out to Douglas Shire Council in fear that the Port Douglas slipway, an important economic player, won’t reopen.
The slipway was “temporarily closed” early April by its operators, The Reef Marina (TRM), due to inadequate management and disposal of wastewater from the site.
On Wednesday last week boat owners and business operators met with the mayor and councillors at the council chambers to voice their concerns.
They told Mayor Julia Leu they feared for the Port Douglas economy if the slipway was allowed to stay closed.
“The operators are very concerned they won’t be able to survive a permanent closure,” said Mayor Leu.
“They have already described ongoing impacts of loss of suppliers and loss of accessibility.
“The economic impact of the closure is starting to become quite obvious to them and they are wanting council to step in.
“They are very concerned about the future of Port Douglas.
“If it doesn’t reopen it will be hard to maintain a sustainable marine tourism industry.”
The meeting was attended by at least 15 people.
Council questions whether TRM is in breach of its lease with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) that stipulates the slipway must be operational.
“Council has asked the minister if TRM have breached the lease with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines,” said Mayor Leu.
“The lease’s purpose granted for industrial use.
“It may be forfeited if it is not used for that purpose.”
Mayor Leu has vowed to take the issue higher to the minister of DNRM, Anthony Lynham.
“The situation is critical for these operators,” Mayor Leu said.
“As a result of the meeting I’m preparing a brief for the minister and requesting that he direct TRM to immediately reopen the slipway and comply with wastewater management conditions.
“Otherwise they are clearly not complying with the purpose of the lease.
“Business operators will also be writing to the minister to demonstrate the severity of the operational impact and the affect it is having on the local economy.”
Council said that it has provided TRM with three “affordable” solutions to rectify the issue of wastewater removal.
Andrew Hooper Nguyen, a co-owner of TRM, said they are currently exploring their options.
“The Reef Marina takes its environmental responsibility seriously and we will not engage in activities which damage the reef,” he said.
“We have appointed an engineer to report on what is required for the slipway to achieve full environmental compliance.” is