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Macka tackles gator weed

Landfill: Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie plans to tackle alligator weed on his property, within the Williamtown RAAF Base contamination zone, by putting up to 200mm of landfill across it. PORT Stephens mayor Bruce Mackenzie has such an alligator weed problem on his Williamtown propertythat he needs a development application to deal with it.
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But the landfill solution he has proposed, within the Williamtown RAAF Base contamination zone, has nearby residents, one of his councillors and Port Stephens MP Kate Washington concerned about the impact on surrounding areas.

Mr Mackenzie plans to scrape the alligator weed off the top of potentially 12 Williamtown lots of land and replace it with up to 200 millimetres of landfill. The development application will be considered for approval ata council meeting in March.

A council document shows the landfill proposal could include acreagesowned by Mr Mackenzie on Nelson Bay Road and Stockton Bight Track.

The Federal Department of Environment describes alligator weed as one of the worst weeds in Australia, responsible for the failure of small crop and turf farms in the Lower Hunter. It recommends repeated spraying to remove it.

Physical removal isdifficultand requirestakingweed material to a depth of one metre, and “deep burial” disposal, the department said.

Mr Mackenzie declined to comment when contacted by the Newcastle Herald.

Councillor Geoff Dingle described the proposal as extraordinary because of serious drainage issues in the area and concerns about any development within the Williamtown contamination zone that could potentially exacerbate the drainage issues.

“If you’re looking at up to 200mm of fill across such a large area, you’re talking about a very large amount of fill, and residents aresaying there’s flooding here that they’ve never seen before,” he said.

He also questioned the approach taken, saying it was contrary to material supplied to councillors recommending alligator weed be sprayed, or if removed from land that it should be “burnt or buried to a depth of up to five metres”.

Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association spokesman Nigel Waters said the development application showed the area proposed was “substantial” but there was “no estimate of how much fill would be involved”.

“It’s a bit of a mystery that the council would even consider such a proposal because it’s partly in the contamination zone,” Mr Waters said.

Ms Washington wasconcernedabout potential impacts from introducing fill into a known flood area.

A Port Stephens Council spokesman said the application was referred to the Environment Protection Authority which “raised no objections to the proposal subject to conditions”.

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