Sandon in danger of being ‘loved to death’: NPWS
THE National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) says it is required by law to ensure holiday shacks at the Sandon camping area comply with environment, building, health and safety standards.
The NPWS said it recognised long standing commitments to the area and will consult with hut owners about future use of the shacks once liabilities are sorted out.
Options include authorising occupation of the huts through licencing and annual fees.
The NPWS has responded to in a statement to claims on the Save the Sandon Facebook page that sweeping changes at the popular holiday spot will destroy the amenity of the area.
The statement dismisses as “nonsense” claims the area will be replaced by a Big Five Holiday Park.
Instead it said the measures are needed to maintain an area in danger of being “loved to death”.
This is the NPWS statement:
Sandon River Camping Area management
- The Sandon River Camping Area is one of seven popular camping areas in Yuraygir National Park attracting more than 50,000 people every year. The plan of management for Yuraygir National Park provides for low-key camping at Sandon River and there is no intention to change this.
- There are no “sweeping changes” proposed and claims that it will be replaced by a Big Five Holiday Park or require a 1 kilometre walk to access the area are nonsense.
- The reality is that due to the campground’s popularity it is in danger of being loved to death. As a result the National Parks and Wildlife Service is currently replacing the toilet block with a new composting system because the existing sewage system established in 2000 has reached the end of its useful life and is incurring significant maintenance costs.
- NPWS is also investing significant funds this year carrying out maintenance and facility improvement works to the campground so that campers can continue to enjoy the camping experience of this part of the park. Improvement works include site levelling, drainage, tree amenity planting, site demarcation, vehicle access, barbeques, fencing and signage.
Sandon huts management
- NPWS has also commenced a process to resolve risk and liability issues relating to the ongoing private occupancy of huts in Yuraygir National Park at Sandon River. These huts were originally constructed between 1930 and 1960 on Crown Land under permissive occupancies granted by the NSW Lands Department. The permissive occupancies were terminated by the Lands Department in 1983 when this section of Yuraygir National Park was declared.
- Since declaration of the park the huts have continued to be privately occupied without being authorised by any lease, licence or agreement with NPWS. The occupiers have not paid any fees, rates or charges since declaration of the park. However, other visitors to the Sandon River campground pay camping fees and vehicle entry fees. This has resulted in some members of the public having free exclusive use of public assets over a long period of time. The adopted plan of management for Yuraygir National Park identifies the need to address the management arrangements of the huts and ensure compliance with relevant legislation including health, safety, environmental and building standards.
- A significant public consultation process was undertaken in preparing the plan of management. The NPWS has reviewed issues relating to the presence and private occupancy of the huts in the National Park. There are significant legal, liability and public equity matters which need to be addressed including issues relating to environmental protection, fire and storm risks, hazardous materials, public access and safety. Many of the huts appear to be in poor condition and may not meet the Building Code of Australia and other relevant technical standards. NPWS has a duty of care to park users and is required to legally assess, mitigate and manage significant risks that are identified.
- NPWS recognises the significance of individual and family connections to the Sandon River area and the desire to maintain an ongoing connection to the Sandon River holiday experience. NPWS is consulting directly with all the hut occupiers and is committed to involving key stakeholders, including hut occupiers, in developing a solution to the future management of the huts. Subject to addressing the risks and liabilities presented by the huts, options include authorising occupation of the huts through licencing and annual fees.