Campers canvass Diggers support

By Sally Gordon

It's crunch time for the Clarence Valley Council to determine if a ban on camping at Diggers Headland will be included in a draft management plan.

Councillors tomorrow are expected to vote on the contentious issue.

Councillors need to endorse the draft before seeking approval from the Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, to publicly display the plan.

Over the past few months there has been a groundswell of community support to retain camping at the Diggers site.

Tucabia man Dennis Darke said yesterday he had received more than 400 letters of support from Clarence Valley residents. The push to keep camping has been bolstered by a further 300 letters of support submitted to the Minister from Valley residents and interstate campers.

Mr Darke said people advocating the continuation of camping had signed typed letters that could be found in businesses around Grafton, Wooli, Minnie Water and Tucabia.

"There is an overwhelming amount of support to retain camping," he said.

"The reason we put the letter out was because of that, and the fact that even people who don't go camping there are aware of the benefits of being able to take your family to a low-key camping area."

Some residents at Diggers Camp, however, claim holiday-makers are camping on their doorstep and want council to proceed with the ban.

"Minnie Water and Wooli have signs saying no campers are allowed in the village but here at Diggers Camp we have people camping on our doorstep," Diggers Camp resident Chris Bleach said.

Council decided to revoke the primitive camping approval for Diggers Headland in February. Councillors later were told by the Minister their decision was in breach of the plan of management for Diggers.

As a result, council staff have prepared a discussion paper canvassing options for the future of camping on the reserve that will be attached to the draft plan when it's placed on public exhibition.

The draft plan has been prepared with the relevant sections related to camping left blank.

Mayor Ian Tiley said that tomorrow councillors would either endorse the draft plan or take another course.

"They'll decide whether to go with the staff recommendation or go with something else ... I'm not sure what that might be," he said.

"I realise a majority of councillors have decided twice now they don't want camping so what they might do on the day is move the draft plan that's going to go to the Minister ... stipulate they don't want camping."

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