Tidal pool for Port Macquarie feasibility study hit on the head

Hit a hurdle: Council says a tidal pool for Port Macquarie is not a priority. Photo: Dan Tozer
Hit a hurdle: Council says a tidal pool for Port Macquarie is not a priority. Photo: Dan Tozer

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council voted for process over popularism in the latest development concerning the push for a tidal pool in Port Macquarie.

Council will advise the tidal pool committee to make future requests, submissions and grant applications through council's engagement processes.

The successful motion also will see council approach Crown Land to clarify its position regarding the construction of a new ocean tidal pool and the provision of owner’s consent.

Cr Rob Turner, along with Crs Mike Cusato and Geoff Hawkins, put forward the change in direction.

Committee spokesperson Fred O'Toole addressed the open forum prior to the discussion and said the council should not dismiss the wishes of some 18,000 residents who signed petitions supporting the tidal pool.

"Let me make one thing clear," he said. "This is not an argument about whether we should have an ocean pool or not.

"We must wait for the facts. A detailed feasibility study is the first step in deciding whether we have an ocean tidal pool or not.

A detailed feasability study is the first step in deciding whether we have an ocean tidal pool or not.

Fred O'Toole

"It seems to me that we've got petitions signed by some 18,000 people saying they want a pool.

"That should be enough stimulus to push this idea forward; that perhaps we may need a pool."

Mr O'Toole said that for the cost of a stamp and a letter to Crown Lands the committee may get $50,0000 or $100,000, to undertake the study.

"Isn't it worthwhile investigating when 18,000 signatures are on a petition?," he added.

Mayor Peta Pinson said she was opposing the decision not to pursue a feasibility study.

"Clearly, 18,000 people signed the petitions and we still find ourselves here again debating this matter," she told the chamber.

"Our community is entitled to at least explore this option. The state member Leslie Williams has been approached regarding funding for the feasability study.

"We should recognise the significance of 18,000 signatures," she said.

But Cr Turner said he had genuine concerns that government policy would not allow a development application to be lodged for the tidal pool.

"The thing may not get off the ground," he said.

"I want to write to the relevant department and see what is required to gain the owners' consent, in this case Crown Lands.

"This is a process point of view; I don't want to set a precedent for other community groups."

Cr Hawkins agreed with Cr Turner saying: "I would love to see a tidal pool, I would like to do it it. However, the point that Cr Turner has made is correct," he said.

It is the principle and the process. And the principle is the same, even if it is 18,000 or one or two people (supporting the tidal pool).

Cr Geoff Hawkins

"It is the principle and the process. And the principle is the same, even if it is 18,000 or one or two people (supporting the tidal pool).

"Otherwise this could be the squeaky wheel syndrome."

Cr Peter Alley said he would not support the alteration.

"Ideas come to council in various different ways. This has come to us as a petition," he said.

"At this stage there is an idea, if it is deferred to the operational plan, it will get deferred further.

"We don't know if it is feasible. We need to support the idea."

Cr Lisa Intemann supported the alteration because 'we can get the information that we might need to go further with this project'.

"If it goes ahead, it is a significant asset that requires funding," she said.

Crs Peta Pinson, Sharon Griffiths and Peter Alley voted against the alteration.

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