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Durras Community Assoc raises concerns over Coastal Walk

The Durras Community Association have sent an open letter to the Hon. Matt Kean MP Minister for Energy and Environment NSW Government Murramarang Coastal Walk expressing the community's serious concerns over the planned development by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Murramarang Coastal Walk. The letter advised the Minister that NPWS announced this proposal last year without any prior consultation with this Association and the South Durras community who will be greatly affected by the increased visitation that this project is intended to generate. "According to the NPWS website funding of $3.4 million has already been allocated to construct this ‘Walk’ yet no social or environmental impact study has yet been completed or put on public exhibition". the letter open states. "No business case or cost/benefit analysis has been placed on the NPWS website or made publicly available to the community that we are aware of that supports the funding provided to this project to date." The Durras Community Association say "We have been advised that an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) will be released in August with further details but to date still nothing has appeared and it seems this project is being pursued as a fait accompli with no regard for the impact our local community. We emphatically reject the NPWS claim that this idea was initiated by local bushwalkers. Local bushwalking groups in this area directly affected by the route were neither consulted nor did they express a desire for further walking track development in Murramarang National Park. In fact advice from local bushwalkers and others in our community is that a suitable bushwalking route already exists and the budgeted $3.4m would be far better spent on supporting local NPWS staff and resources to enhance the management of Murramarang National Park."

If it believed by the Association and community that NPWS and the promoters of this project have failed to recognize that the proposed route of the ‘Walk’ is not just within the National Park estate but involves passing through several coastal villages. South Durras is situated in the middle of the proposed route and it is proposed to extend it across public and community land, and along beaches of the coastal village. Concerns are held that the proposed increased visitation will impact and put extra strain on local infrastructure such as pathways, public toilets on septic systems, viewing platforms, picnic areas and the headland stairway (most of which has been funded by local ratepayers and community fundraising). The letter also identifies a major flaw in the concept in that the entrance to Durras Lake is often open to the sea and therefore prevents walkers from crossing this area and the Association emphatically opposes any proposed new bridging infrastructure related to the lake crossing to accommodate this project. South Durras is also already a very high risk area for bushfires and we are greatly concerned about this risk being greatly increased by encouraging more walkers and campers in the national park areas that surround our village via this ‘Walk’. With many other issues also raised in the open letter the Association is demanding that the project is immediately halted and further information and justification (including a cost/benefit analysis) is provided to the local communities along the route and placed on public exhibition for all interested persons to review and provide their views. "As the Minister responsible, we ask that you please not support any projects devised by city-based bureaucrats that do not have the support of the local community."

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