River sea­plane bid scrapped

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - War­ren Hately

A com­mu­nity fight­back against a plan to land sea­planes on the Mar­garet River has been won be­fore it even started.

Coun­cil­lors this week were set to con­sider an early pro­posal from Swan River Sea­planes which wanted to fly tourists from Perth and land 12-seater planes on the river.

For the sec­ond time in re­cent months a proac­tive push­back from the Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River plan­ning de­part­ment nipped the bid in the bud.

The Perth com­pany failed to at­tend a brief­ing ses­sion on Wed­nes­day.

Shire sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor Dale Put­land said he and man­ager Matt Cuth­bert qui­etly rec­om­mended that the com­pany con­sider us­ing the Black­wood River or re­view its pro­posal.

In­stead, Dr Put­land said the com­pany was eye­ing flights to the Mar­garet River airstrip as an al­ter­na­tive and fuel stor­age could be a boon for fu­ture fire­fight­ing re­sponses.

In light of sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about the health of the Mar­garet River and a re­cently formed group to over­see a strate­gic pro­tec­tion plan, the pro­posal flew in the face of com­mu­nity sen­ti­ment. It fol­lows a bid to re­launch min­ing pro­pos­als in the re­gion ear­lier this year which was also with­drawn af­ter Shire plan­ners alerted coun­cil­lors and a proac­tive de­fence was launched.

Dr Put­land told coun­cil­lors he of­fered “ex­tremely strong ad­vice” against the sea­planes idea.

Speak­ing be­fore the failed meet­ing, Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Mar­garet River Re­gion chair­man Boyd Wykes was cau­tious about the fea­si­bil­ity and ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of the idea.

“The draft Lower Mar­garet Riv- er Fore­shore Ac­tion Plan pre­pared by Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion for the Shire will help pro­vide a sound ba­sis for assess­ing pro­pos­als such as this,” he said.

“With­out hav­ing seen the pro­posal, sea­plane ac­tiv­ity sounds to be at odds with the sen­si­tive nat­u­ral and cul­tural val­ues of this small, rel­a­tively pris­tine es­tu­ary.

“Recre­ation is al­ready be­ing closely man­aged, with a ban on mo­torised wa­ter ves­sels and con­straints on com­mer­cial tourist op­er­a­tions.”

The Times un­der­stands the pro­posal is now dead in the wa­ter.

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