A decision on a proposal to prohibit dogs on Washhouse Beach at Dunbogan has been postponed by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council until October after overwhelming feedback was received.
The proposed draft Dogs in Public Open Spaces Policy to prohibit dogs on the beach between Kattang Nature Reserve and the breakwall at Dunbogan was scheduled for the July ordinary council meeting.
It will now be heard at the October meeting, after the 2021 NSW local government elections on Saturday, September 4.
- Camden Haven residents object to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's draft proposal to make Washhouse Beach a no dog zone
- Friends of Kattang have created a petition to support the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council proposal at Washhouse Beach
- Hastings Birdwatchers member Peter West discusses sightings recorded since 2005 at Washhouse Beach
- Residents applaud dogs on Washhouse beach decision in 2010
Concerned residents have signed a 817-strong petition against the proposal, while a petition created by Friends of Kattang to support the council proposal has been signed by more than 128 people.
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said the proposal is a significant issue for members of the public and needed further consideration from council.
"It is a talking point (in the Camden Haven) and I will be looking at the beach personally," she said.
"I understand that council's concern is the difficulty of delineating between where the dogs are allowed and where they aren't allowed."
Public consultation on the draft policy concluded in June and received 193 submissions from the community.
Council's development and environment director Melissa Watkins said the majority of feedback was related to Washhouse Beach.
"Due to the significant level of feedback, particularly in relation to the prohibition of dogs on Washhouse Beach, we need to undertake further consultation with National Parks and Wildlife Service," she said.
"(Consultation is needed) to better understand the risks to the Kattang Nature Reserve, and to fully understand and consider the community's concerns prior to any policy changes being implemented.
"In the meantime Washhouse Beach will continue to be an off-leash dog area between the breakwall and Kattang Nature Reserve, as outlined in the current policy.
"The community is encouraged to be mindful of the area dogs are restricted to on this beach."
Friends of Kattang Nature Reserve member Sue Proust hopes the review of feedback will result in an informed decision.
"I guess it could be a good thing to have a bit of time for everyone to take a step back and have a think about the impact of dogs on the beaches," she said.
"I hope this gives people time to present to council the precious nature of the reserve and the reason why dogs should not be allowed on the beach."
Camden Head resident Ruth Reynolds is among many residents opposing the proposal, but is hoping for a decision that meets the needs of both the environment and the community.
"There are two viewpoints - one is that it might be more difficult because there may be new councillors we don't know and the other being a positive, where we can get our views united better," Ms Reynolds said.
"I think it is a good thing because it gives us more time, I am really keen for a compromise and to keep the status quo.
"This postponement takes the heat out of the issue and allows everyone to figure out we are all actually on the same side to get a good outcome for nature, but also for health and well being of the local residents."
A report to the May council meeting said council and National Parks and Wildlife Service received complaints about the use of Washhouse Beach.
The proposed change would reduce sign requirements, reduce confusion and enable the National Parks and Wildlife Service to implement various management programs, the report said.
For more information about the petition opposing the council proposal visit https://www.change.org/p/port-macquarie-hastings-council-make-wash-house-beach-dog-friendly?redirect=false
For more information about the petition supporting the proposal visit https://me.getup.org.au/petitions/keep-wash-house-beach-for-nature
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