Tura Beach residents group disputes council reserves plan

Controversy continues to simmer over two hectares of regrowth land at Tura Beach, with a residents group locking horns with Bega Valley Shire Council over a new land management plan.

North Tura Beach Residents Association president Les Murphy said council should reclassify the small reserve at Dolphin Cove as beach gateway parkland, and criticised the contents of a new land management plan.

Mr Murphy called council’s recent Site Management Plan of the Tura Head Coastal Reserve and Dolphin Cove Reserve “questionable”, full of “unsupported assumptions” and claimed it aims to “impose a green-oriented agenda”. 

He said council’s plan, released last week, aims to turn the “urban, open space into an extension of the nearby Bournda National Park and limit public use”.

“They [council staff] have defied the unanimous vote by elected councillors last October to clear out weeds and invasive wattle and replant this beach access recreational land with native grasses.”

However, council’s director of community relations and leisure, Anthony Basford, said the plan would create “better access”, and stays true to the resolution by making sure “everyone is clear about what they can and can’t do” to the land.

According to the plan, the habitat connectivity the land provides between Bournda National Park to the north and Short Point to the south is a “key consideration for management of the site” due to the presence of vulnerable long-nosed potoroos and eastern pygmy possum.

In a letter to council in February, the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Dr Damon Oliver said there have been “numerous” sightings of long-nosed potoroos around The Point, and recommended native vegetation be kept.

An independent vegetation consultant for the management plan said a diverse “species mix” and the controlling of African lovegrass and kikuyu are necessary in the area, and an “open expanse of grasses” would disrupt coastal habitat connectivity even more.

Meanwhile, the Living with Nature Group said council’s plan balances “conservation and restoration” of wildlife corridors with improving “the health and beauty of the vegetation and accessibility to the beach”.

The plan comes after community consultation and a workshop in June last year, and an October council meeting that saw councillors vote on the plan’s key focus points.