Vehicle access to popular river spots to be blocked off
LONGSTANDING issues with people dumping waste, including human excrement and drug utensils, and tearing up river banks at popular tourist sites along the Brisbane River have forced the local council into action.
Somerset Regional Council will install barriers along road reserves to restrict vehicle access close to Twin Bridges and Savages Crossing near Fernvale.
Security cameras and signage will also be put in place.
Locals are fed up with visitors leaving all manners of rubbish along the Mid Brisbane River catchment that runs through the region.
Reckless four-wheel drivers are causing damage to the banks and river bed.
Large long-term campsites are set up along other sections of the river.
Mayor Graeme Lehmann wrote to new Resources Minister Scott Stewart earlier this month to invite him to visit the sites and discuss long-term partnership opportunities to get on top of the issues.
“Council has reported these activities to your department with an understanding it is their jurisdiction to regulate these activities on unallocated state land and on the water side of the high bank,” Cr Lehmann wrote.
“Council has genuinely attempted to respond to the issues in the past through various strategies and joint initiatives with Queensland Police, however they are invariably undermined by the ability to regulate across multiple land tenures, high capital costs and ongoing investment of people on the ground.
“These capital and operational costs are a significant limitation for the Somerset Regional Council given our large area and relatively small rate base.
“Council is currently partnering with Seqwater who is undertaking a rehabilitation options assessment project for both Hills and Savages Crossings, which are a part of the Mid Brisbane River.
“Although optimistic about the project and the final design outcomes, council (and Seqwater) will still need to ultimately navigate the capital and ongoing costs and more importantly, the inhibiting jurisdictional limitations.
“We have sought legal advice on these tenure limitations and have been grateful for the assistance your departmental officers have provided to date.
“However, this is not a quick or straightforward process and is not an option council can pursue in isolation without your support.”
Cr Lehmann said the council was not the lead agency in the management of waterways and it felt it had “no other choice” but to do something by restricting vehicle access.
“Council remains determined to engage proactively with other agencies to find sustainable long-term solutions to these sites,” he said.
“We have received evidence and reports, and in instances, seen for ourselves, the disgusting amount of rubbish left on the riverbanks.
“This unfortunately includes human excrement and illicit drug utensils, damage to fences of adjoining properties and the environmental damage is significant.
“It is incredibly disappointing that council is forced to take this action to minimise the health and safety risk to the public, but we see no other choice.”
Council CEO Andrew Johnson said the council had struggled to crack down on these issues on its own and needed extra support.
“In the past, council has worked on various strategies and joint initiatives with Queensland Police, however … these capital and operational costs are a significant limitation for Somerset Regional Council given our large area and relatively small rate base,” he said.
“We are committed to working with various agencies to improve and safely manage this once pristine waterway for the enjoyment of all of southeast Queensland.”
Councillor Sean Choat said he was not sure if the barriers and cameras would be installed before Christmas.
“They’re being put in on road reserves which is council domain,” he said.
“It’s the start of the process of getting something done.
“It’s not going to stop pedestrian traffic there. They are welcome but they won’t be taking their vehicles in and our anymore.
“There might be people who feel like they’re not hurting anything (and being punished) but we have to do something.
“But the degradation is just getting worse. We’ve nearly had toddlers run over.”
A large Clean Up Australia Day event for March 7 next year is being organised to clean up Lowood Bend, Fielding’s Road, Twin Bridges Reserve, Savages Crossing and Burtons Bridge.
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.