No decision made on Cattle Bay Marina sewage issue

An artist impression of the Eden Cattle Bay Marina.
An artist impression of the Eden Cattle Bay Marina.

There are yet more delays in a multi-million dollar marina proposal for Cattle Bay, this time due to debate over who pays for sewage removal.

A public meeting of the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP)  was held on Tuesday, February 5, to determine an application made by Eden Cattle Bay Marina to modify the issued planning permit. 

The DA approved by the JRPP in 2015 specified that sewage waste from boats at the marina needed to be collected by a portable device then deposited into the existing Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) sewerage system. 

Capital works to existing town sewerage pipes were to be paid for by the Eden Marina developers. However, the developer is seeking to modify the DA to avoid “a heavy and unnecessary financial impost”. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, Marina manager Michael Jarvin reiterated the developer’s financial concerns.

“We cannot afford to pay $670,000 even before we get a boat in the marina,” he said. “After 26 months we are still sitting here with a $670,000 problem that I can’t build the marina with.”

BVSC representative Jim Collins said the level of section 64 charges to the development was significant, but that new changes in policy by the BVSC to assist business start-ups should assist with the cost of the new development. 

“The new policy gives you the option of paying up front at your discretion or pay excess water and sewerage charges on top of your normal user charges,” he said. “Cost then becomes a non-argument because you pay as you go.”

Mayor Kristy McBain said this new policy should address some of the concerns of the applicant while giving council certainty over what happens to the development itself.

BVSC representatives also discussed environmental concerns, and the panel all agreed the new proposal increased the level of risk to Eden’s sensitive marine environment. 

“These days we are not about to put septic tank systems within 50 metres of a waterway, doubly so if it is a highly sensitive environmental area,” panel member  Alison McCabe said. 

Mr Jarvin said he respected council’s professionalism, but remained sceptical in regards to the council’s new policy change, and its ability to deliver the outcomes required to progress the development. 

“I am too wise a man to think that that is going to give us what we need,” he said. “I think it is smoke and mirrors. I have been here before.”

The JRPP resolved it did not support the DA modification, but declared it was not in a position to make a determination at Tuesday’s meeting because the subject had not been publicly advertised in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.  

Ms Allen said it is not likely there will be another meeting to discuss the matter, but submissions could be made to council after the modification proposal had been advertised. 

Ms Allen said even though 26 months had transpired, with court action and dialogue between council, as far as the panel was concerned it wanted to feel comfortable and secure about the decision to change the way sewage is removed. 

“Given the environmental risks, it is not something we feel comfortable about,” she said.