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Pop-up protest sends a message

cvi   As the push to turn the Lower Clarence being turned into a port continues, despite universal rejection of the idea by local, state and federal politicians, people against the idea have begun campaigning. Locals against the idea and environmental watchdog group, Valley Watch, joined Greens candidate for Page Kudra Falla-Ricketts at the Yamba River Market on Sunday, to raise awareness about the proposal. Other Yamba locals have begun distributing bumper stickers against the proposal and, online, a Facebook site has been set up – ‘No Yamba Mega Port’. Valley Watch president Ros Woodward said the proposal would “change the whole town”. “We all live here because we like the lifestyle,” she said. “Environmentally, there are a lot of factors to be considered: seagrass, salt marsh, migratory birds and lots of other ecological values. “From the tourism perspective, people like to come to small towns that haven’t been worked over.” Ms Falla-Ricketts said the Greens have declared opposition to the proposal. “I have been meeting with residents here and their concerns are very real and heartfelt,” she said. “It reminds me of the anguish that the threat of industrial gas fields generated in this region. “Industrialisation of the Clarence River on this scale would do untold damage to the tourism and fishing industries of the region, damage the riverine and marine environments and potentially open the door to coal and coal seam gas exports and even live cattle exports.” The website lists live cattle as one of the “indicative trade throughputs”, along with containers, petro chemical products, agriculture commodities, heavy machinery, vehicle imports and forestry. The proposal specifically rules out the export of coal and CSG. Ms Falla-Rickets also pointed out that “the commercial fishing industry is worth at least $92m annually, and generates over 400 jobs”. “Tourism is one of the Lower Clarence’s greatest economic assets, generating $280million annually, and recreational fishing is a big part of that. “Add to this the destruction of the relaxed lifestyle for residents of Yamba, Iluka and beyond and you have an industrialisation proposal that is immensely destructive.”