Glenda Pickersgill.
Glenda Pickersgill. File

Residents claim their rights

MARY Valley residents and community groups are making sure they have a big say in future planning for their recently liberated region, after the collapse of the Traveston Crossing dam proposal.

Mary Valley Renewal Team member Glenda Pickersgill said the work of community motivator Peter Kenyon, who helped residents and businesspeople develop their own consensus on future land uses in the Valley, would not be wasted.

It would continue to help make sure that Valley interests had a big say in what was being planned for the area.

Ms Pickersgill presented a copy of the Valley’s own Community and Economic Action Plan, which was being launched locally at Imbil last night, to state Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

Mr Hinchliffe promised that locally generated ideas would “contribute strongly to the work we are going to do”.

Mayor Ron Dyne said the cost of Mr Kenyon’s involvement in facilitating policy meetings of residents and businesspeople had been “money well spent”.

“Always the best successes are those passionately driven by the community, without reliance on government handouts,” he said.

Ms Pickersgill said yesterday that the community held “strong expectations” about what should happen with government land that was not going to be bought back by the previous landowners.

“There is a pressing need to rebuild the landscape, businesses and community fabric of the Mary Valley,” she said.

“We have collected information from across the communities in the valley about what is important to retain, regain, change or create, to move forward as healthy, caring, inclusive, sustainable and enterprising communities.”

Planned actions to come out of the Kenyon renewal workshops included the establishment of a “string of pearls” arts trail along the river, a strong eco-tourism push with slow-food destinations and setting up a purpose-built park for “grey nomads” to entice them to Mary River country.

“The main push will be the protection of the Mary River cod, turtle and giant barred frog, through programs that include nest protection, predator control, protection of spawning sites and adoption of eco-friendly on-farm practices,” she said.

She described commitments made by Mr Hinchliffe during his recent Valley visit as “a good first step in the right direction”.

Mr Hinchliffe envisaged a “food bowl” future with a green corridor along the river, but Ms Pickersgill said residents would not “breathe easy” until they knew more about the fate of large areas of land purchased by the government for the dam.

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