Marine rescue 'forced' into building pontoon, storage shed | video

Bitter sweet: Marine Rescue Port Macquarie commander Neil Yates.
Bitter sweet: Marine Rescue Port Macquarie commander Neil Yates.

A Marine Rescue Port Macquarie proposal to build a floating pontoon and storage shed at its emergency services headquarters on Westport Park got the green light at Wednesday night’s May council meeting.

But the success of the development application was bitter sweet.

The emergency service has been virtually forced into spending some $30,000 of community-raised funds on the new facility because the plan of management for Westport Park does not allow for the construction of new buildings. 

As well, with marine rescue housed in one of the bays at the site, the remaining two bays are utilised by surf life saving clubs for storage of skis and rescue boards.

Marine Rescue commander Neil Yates addressed the meeting and said the organisation needed quick access to its two jet skis.

“There are two things to consider: we absolutely have to launch our jet skis within 15 minutes of receiving a call out,” he said. “And under the Westport plan of management we are unable to extend the building.

“The building is leased to marine rescue (but) I do not have access to all the bays.

“We simply have to have a means to get our jet skis in the water and the only current way is through this DA to build a pontoon and shed.

“If there was any other way to achieve this, believe me, I would.”

Mr Yates said the current extended time spent to launch jet skis could, potentially, see someone lose their life.

We simply have to have a means to get our jet skis in the water and the only current way is through this DA to build a pontoon and shed

Marine rescue commander Ian Yates

Cr Rob Turner said he agreed that marine rescue was an essential emergency service that required prompt response times.

He suggested that approaching the Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Wiliams could help overcome the restrictions within the Westport plan of management.

Cr Peter Alley said he would ‘reluctantly support this (motion)’.

“Marine rescue has to respond to the community needs and in relation to the other groups that use those storage bays, they are also valuable community organisations,” he said.

Cr Justin Levido said he also had concerns about the DA. “But this highlights the complex issue surrounding Westport Park,” he said.

“The view that no more buildings be constructed really needs to be addressed.”

The general manager Craig Swift-McNair pointed to a review of the Westport plan of management – which is due to start in July – as one avenue where this matter could be resolved.

Cr Turner said: “We need to have conversations with the relevant authorities and Leslie Williams.”

Mr Yates said a minor addition to the western side of the existing building with direct access to the water would solve the storage and launching issues.

Other concerns raised included the two year time timeframe on completing work under the DA.