The controversial upgrade of Port Macquarie's southern breakwall is one step closer with the project now open to tender.
Transport for NSW (Roads and Maritime Projects) has called a site inspection for potential tenderers on Tuesday morning (December 13).
Any organisation interested in applying is expected to attend.
The decision to move forward with tenders comes despite the protests of the Save Our Breakwall group, which is rallying on Town Beach from 2pm Saturday (December 10).
Its members are opposed to the planned removal of trees, changes to the head of the breakwater, and other planned work.
At their last meeting for the year on Thursday, December 8, Port Macquarie-Hastings councillors voted 5-4 to support the upgrade "in principle".
The motion, put forward by Councillor Lisa Intemann, included noting that the project is being fully funded by the NSW Government to maintain the "critical maritime asset and improve public amenity".
"There is... great passion in the community in opposition to what is being proposed," Cr Intemann said.
"But [council] is caught between a rock and a hard place. This is a state government project and council has no direct involvement in it."
However, Cr Intemann said that councillors have a responsibility to represent the community's concerns.
"There has been great vocal concern expressed in the community about the need for the project; the loss of items of cultural significance - being the trees and the painted rocks - and the perceived risk of the works to the surf break," she said.
Cr Intemann noted that requests for more information from TfNSW regarding the upgrade, have not been provided to council.
"There have been a number of requests by council to get further information, much of which has come back to us, but the 3D survey (of the breakwall) has not. And it's important that we see that," she said.
Cr Intemann said council had also requested a meeting with TfNSW which has not come to fruition.
"I'm endeavoring to stand in the difficult position between these two points of view so we can try to get a face-to-face exchange with TfNSW about the basis for their decisions," she said.
"This is a State Government matter and is something council doesn't have a great deal of influence on."
Mayor Peta Pinson put forward an amended motion, which was ultimately lost.
It included noting the "significant concerns" expressed by members of the community; supporting a revised plan to widen the footpath; and the petition of 1350 signatures and 1500 online signatures in opposition of the upgrade.
"The State Government needs to listen to these loud voices in our community," Cr Pinson said when speaking to her lapsed amendment.
When asked by Cr Adam Roberts what "supporting in principle" means in regards to the breakwall upgrade, Cr Intemann said it's the "right of the State Government to manage their own asset (the breakwall)".
"Support in principle assumes that the proponent will actually meet the standards of scientific rigour, data collection, community consultation and consideration of issues," she said.
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