Image for Huon Valley Guessing Games (15): Egg Island threat

If you care for Franklin’s historic “cut” through Egg Island, you must get your protest into the Huon Valley Council quickly because it is not budging on its closing date for submissions — December 22 — against Southern Water’s application to lay through the canal a pipeline that will hugely impede its use by boating, thus threatening the town’s embryonic marine industry.

The pipeline, as it crosses the Huon River via the cut, will, in the words of Chris Wilson of the town’s Living Boat Trust, undermine the development of Franklin as “a very active marine precinct”.

You could also argue — as will Tasmanian Land Conservancy, owner of the Egg Islands, in its submission — that a pipeline has “the potential to degrade the Eucalyptus ovata woodland and the potential for weed invasion and erosion resulting from disturbance to the banks of the canal”, (but greenie comments like that usually carry little weight with HVC.)

More importantly, impress upon the council in your submissions the potential for the pipeline to have a hugely detrimental impact upon the slowly reviving prosperity of Franklin and communities for miles north and south along the economically challenged west coast of the Huon.

Wilson, in his letter to council, writes: “It appears that the pipe will be about 300mm in diameter and that there will be large concrete supports built along the pipeline every 5m or so. We have very real fears this proposal will render the canal unnavigable.”

This week, Wilson enlarged on his council submission: “We would like to see a centre for working on, and building, traditional boats, with perhaps servicing of vessels from all over the world a possibility, let alone our own traditional vessels. It would be a great shame to scuttle this idea by further limiting the available draft of the Huon River by putting a pipeline downriver of the proposed North Franklin marine precinct.”

Once again, the people of the Huon Valley have been subjected to the kind of governmental behaviour that sticks in the craw of those who, to my mind, foolishly still have faith in the democratic process.

For years, their local government has been pulling the wool over their eyes — usually by failing to consult and telling them nothing or, at best, just a bit of the truth, and then usually too late for anything to be done about it.

The Egg Island atrocity-in-the-making is once again largely the fault of a former council’s failure to keep the valley’s residents informed of the plans it was hatching. The present council was slow to inform those most affected by the Southern Water development application, thus giving opponents of the scheme little time in which to organise.

There’s a lot more to this latest Huon Valley scandal than this brief article covers — and I plead guilty to the charge that I’m not telling the full story — but I’m hoping these words will encourage dissenters to lodge their protests. Get them across council’s front desk — delivering them by hand, if necessary — before close of business on December 22.

Bob Hawkins is a Huon Valley ratepayer and an advocate for transparency in all democratic institutions. He is not a member of any political organisation.