The Friends of the Minnamurra River (FOMR), a group opposed to the overwater section of the proposed Minnamurra Boardwalk, are concerned that Stage 1 of the project proposes cutting down at least 66 trees.
Stage 1 of the Boardwalk involves a 980 metre long and 2.5 metre wide shared path along Riverside Drive, linking the Minnamurra River Bridge in the north to a viewing platform near Federal St in the south.
In its submission to Council on Cardno’s Review of Environmental Factors (REF) documents for Stage 1, the Friends of the Minnamurra River (FOMR) said it is essential that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is undertaken to examine the threat the 1.6km long boardwalk/cycleway project poses to the Minnamurra River estuary.
“Once people find out about the mass destruction planned for this beautiful and natural area to make way for a path that Council is promoting as a tourist attraction, we feel certain that they will demand at least an EIS,” says the Chair of FOMR, Will Chyra.
“And if the EIS shows that the boardwalk/cycleway proposal is going to be environmentally damaging in any way to one of the Kiama Municipality’s last remaining largely untouched natural assets, then the design and route of the boardwalk/cycleway will have to be modified accordingly.
“I also find it inconceivable that the NSW Government, with its array of legislation to protect ecological treasures such as the Minnamurra River estuary and wetlands, will allow theboardwalk project to proceed, as proposed, if the project will destroy or harm – as it is apparently going to – the estuary’s naturalness and vegetation, mangroves, seagrasses, saltmarshes and fish and wildlife habitats.”
FOMR believes the splitting of the REF into two parts is an attempt to avoid a full environmental assessment.
“The NSW Government guidelines for preparing a REF specifically warn against ‘project splitting’ because it obscures identifying the full environmental effects and impacts of a project from the community,” says Mr Chyra.
He believes Council is working to have the project approved before 3 April, when a full EIS would be required by the new Coastal State Environment Protection Policy.
Amongst other things, Mr Chyra is also critical of the REF being conducted via a desktop study and a one day field survey to evaluate the environmental impacts of the Boardwalk.