No mention of camping

By SALLY GORDON

sally.gordon@dailyexaminer.com.au

THERE will be no reference made to camping on the Diggers Headland Reserve in Clarence Valley Council's draft Plan of Management for the site.

Councillors yesterday voted to stay silent on the contentious issue and send the plan to the Minister of Lands, Tony Kelly, without stating their position.

Mr Kelly must sign off on the draft plan before it can be publicly exhibited.

Councillors yesterday held a lengthy discussion about camping on the reserve, after being told by the minister earlier in the year they should avoid pre-empting outcomes in the plan.

"Rather than pre-empt the outcome, it would be preferable that the draft plan canvas options for the community's consideration," the minister told council in the April 4 letter.

It was deputy mayor Shirley Adams who suggested council refrain from taking a position in the draft plan, while a frustrated Cr Kerry Lloyd urged colleagues to heed the minister's advice.

"If there is a clear directive by the minister, what right have we got to try and buck democracy," he said.

Cr Fred Morgan believed councillors should consider the environmental impacts of camping when adopting a draft plan.

"Council has to be very conscious of the ecological damage camping, that is not well managed, can create on a fragile environment such as this," he said.

Cr Morgan's sentiments yesterday were echoed by Diggers Camp resident Chris Bleach who yesterday raised concerns about the effect certain camping activities had on the environment during peak camping seasons.

"Conservation issues were not fully explored by some councillors at that meeting today," she said yesterday.

"Their own plan of management has high conservation value right around the village.

"Council has stated themselves that North Eastern NSW has been identified as the second most biodiverse region in Australia... the first being the Daintree Forest region.

"Why is it that they can't seem to accept this?"

At yesterday's meeting council also tabled 480 letters that have been individually signed by Clarence Valley residents, who support the continuation of camping at the site.



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