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Over the past 18 months the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), in collaboration with local councils, has completed a project to co-develop a recommendation to the NSW Government – the Richmond River Governance and Funding Framework (RRGFF).
Local government has contributed 50% of the funding to this project. The Councils of Kyogle, Richmond Valley, Lismore, Rous, Byron and Ballina are committed to better catchment and estuary health outcomes for the Richmond River. The DPIE Coastal and Estuaries Grants Program has funded the remaining 50% of the project. DPIE itself has also funded staff time to develop the project and to support the background work.
A copy of the Richmond River Governance and Funding Framework final report is available here.
DPIE is now seeking input from stakeholders to support development of an agreed formal model for governance arrangements in the Richmond River catchment to deliver improved river health outcomes.
The Richmond River estuary is highly valued by the community and is a focal point for local commerce, tourism and recreation. The estuary, with its associated wetlands and waterways, supports a rich biodiversity and a range of important environmental functions and local industry. Despite these recognised values, the system is under pressure from past and existing development, catchment disturbance and hydrological modification, land use management and large-scale vegetation changes. Looking forward, the estuary faces continued pressure from future development within the catchment.
The natural characteristics of the Richmond River catchment and floodplain, such as the presence of potential acid sulfate soils, a large floodplain to catchment ratio and poor flushing characteristics are all elements that interact with and exacerbate the impact of human pressures. Together these factors contribute to the degradation of the waterway and occurrence of undesirable events such as poor water quality episodes and fish kills, particularly following some flood events.
To address the impacts of human land uses and activities on the Richmond River estuary, a 10-year Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) for the Richmond River estuary was developed in 2012 by Ballina Shire, Lismore City, Richmond Valley and Rous County councils.
Through 12 strategies, the goal of the CZMP was to restore and maintain the ecological sustainability of the Richmond River estuary as well as the associated recreational and commercial activities.
The CZMP for the Richmond River Estuary provides strategic guidance for the management of the Richmond River estuary in the Ballina, Richmond Valley and Lismore local government areas.
The CZMP was certified by the Minister on 20 December 2011. The CZMP was published in the NSW Government Gazette and commenced on 24 February 2012.
Schedule 3 (Part 2)(4) of the Coastal Management Act 2016 enables a certified CZMP (such as the Richmond River estuary CZMP) to retain its 'in force' status until 31 December 2021. After this date, it will cease to be certified. This means that, while planning work is underway for a new coastal management program for the Richmond River estuary, on-ground implementation of the CZMP continues in accordance with the existing gazetted CZMP.
Existing coastal management activities are being implemented through each respective council's Delivery Program to meet objectives and priorities established in each council's Community Strategic Plan (under Integrated Planning and Reporting requirements). The various strategies contained within the CZMP require review and transition to align with the NSW coastal management framework.
Volume 1: Coastal Zone Management Plan
Volume 2: Estuary Management Study and Appendices
Richmond River Estuary Summary document
Estuary Processes Study: Summary ABER, 2007