Blue Mountains Council is currently negotiating a strategic alliance with Penrith Council.
This is a good thing for garbage pick ups and street sweeping but does nothing to address our important World Heritage issues.
Penrith Council is a Metropolitan Council with no knowledge or interest in our World Heritage Area.
Our World Heritage Area is surrounded by Hawkesbury City Council, City of Lithgow, Mudgee Shire Council, Oberon Shire Council and Wollondilly Council. We even have Gosford Council on the north east boundaries.
Here is a map that shows just how extensive the area is.
We must work together with all the other Councils surrounding the World Heritage Area. We must combine resources, finances and manpower to ensure the area has excellent management.
The combined resources of 5 adjoining Councils could be used to:
- Plan for and combat weed invasion.
- Manage tourism flows.
- Help create low impact tourism and encourage sustainable eco-ventures.
- Environmental education….particularly for land owners and users adjoining the Heritage Area.
- Train Rangers to supervise and monitor activities that effect the area. We need a “carrot and stick” approach where Rangers encourage education and co-operation but have powers to prosecute repeat offenders who are damaging our fragile environment.
We already have a number of links with these other Councils that can be worked on and developed. As well as the boundaries we share with the World Heritage Areas we have all been affected by the same bushfire threats and sometimes the same fire! We currently regionally co-operate through the respective emergency services agencies.
The Emergency Services Centre that co-ordinates bushfire emergencies for Western NSW and the Hawkesbury regions is based in the Blue Mountains at Katoomba. I think we also need a jointly funded co-ordination centre for the World Heritage Area.
One option to help finance such a centre is a levy on tourists. Perhaps a $1 per seat bus levy on day trippers could be a possibility. All avenues must be looked at and I believe it is only reasonable that the tourists who get to enjoy our wonderful environment, contribute a small amount for the privilege of doing so.