Thursday, October 1, 2009

Stockton Bight To Be Transformed Into A Wasteland

Please find below my notes for an address I gave to the Port Stephens Council back in 1994. Less than 15 years later the World famous Sand Barrier and its historic and scenic treasure is being transformed to a waste land and its sand turned to land fill and concrete by the very people who we were told would want to conserve it as their heritage.

February 1, 1994

What will we call it?

Hunter River Coastal Park?
Stockton Bight Coastal Park?
Newcastle Bight National Park?
Port Stephens National Park?

Sydney Harbour has its National Park.
Gosford has its Brisbane Waters National Park.
Port Hacking has its Royal National Park.
Botany Bay has its Botany Bay National Park.
The Hawkesbury River - Broken Bay has the Ku-ring-gai National Park.
Sydney also has Blue Mountains National Park, 247 000ha
Dharug National Park 15 000ha and more.

Newcastle Bight is the Hunter Region's miniature Fraser Island - A sand dune wonderland.

It is our only chance of obtaining a national park near to the lower Hunter centre of population. Action is needed now because the threats of development could obliterate the area in the next ten years.

The pressures are: sand mining rutile, sand extraction building sand and foundry sand also silica sand for glass making, fires, urbanisation, off road vehicles.

The Challenge is :

To incorporate and dedicate all the Public Land and Crown Lands in the Bight and the areas of high conservation value over the Hunter Water Corporation Tomago Sand Beds and to prepare a plan of management that will protect.

1. not just the unique surface with its magnificent fore dunes and forested hind dunes and closed heath lands its wetlands and miniature lagoons.

2. but also the open aquifer and ground waters that are our insurance policy for the continued supply of water in times of drought or when green algae makes pumping from dangerous. The urban habitability of this area into the long term is dependent on the protection of this easily accessible ground water supply.

It is important to ensure the provision of potable fresh Water - in Drought or when there is an infestation of blue green algae (Microcystis aeruginosa)

A National Park is a special public park that is of sufficient area to protect the scenic beauty and the natural quality or unique interest of an area and make it available for all to enjoy without impairing its distinctive qualities.

Port Stephens is an attractive area and the Newcastle Bight the sand dunes, sand beds and volcanic hills are its distinctive scenic features.

The holiday wonderland of our region - clear skies, clear water, and natural beauty.

The Challenge of the future is to keep it wonderful.

The fresh water in our open aquifer needs it protecting mantle of nature.

The trees shrubs and wild places that have constantly replenished it and protected it since time immemorial.

We can enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape and still maintain the quality of the underground water supply if we are able to establish a National Park and manage it properly.

The Challenge is to manage all our activities with a comprehensive plan of management that acknowledges the sensitivities and the potential but ensures that our activities do no permanent damage.

We have reserved land for military, water and forestry purposes but we have no reasonable sized National Park.

Sydney's great National Parks - Royal National - 15 h Dedicated 1879 1.3million people visited last year

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase - 14 838ha Dedicated 1894 1.2million people visited last year

The population of Sydney was less than the current population of the lower Hunter when these parks were dedicated.

Sydney's 2 great National Parks can be reached by public transport and are within a 23km radius of the harbour bridge.

We have Glenrock SRA - 478ha Not 4 000 or 15 000 and

Tomaree NP - 896ha Not 8 000 or 15 000

Why are there no reasonable sized National Parks in the Lower Hunter.

Do we not care about our great assets for some reason?

Perhaps we are unable to make our voice heard in the corridors of power. Perhaps Sydney has been lucky to have so many local government councils?

The Challenge is the establishment of a Coastal National Park in Port Stephens before the pressures become to great.

We would like to establish a centre for coastal management on the Bight.

We need to study the whole Bight.

We all need to get to know the facts about this unique natural system in its wholeness - solve the incompatible use problems - and together we will make sure our voice is heard.

Doug Lithgow
Parks and Playgrounds Movement

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