BERMAGUI’S gun club is again in the crosshairs of objectors to its proposal to increase the number of days it operates.
At last week’s Bega Valley Shire Council meeting a number of residents and business owners spoke out about a potential loss of amenity and income if the Bermagui Field and Game Club was allowed to conduct shoots for six additional days per year.
The original request for 12 days a year for the purpose of training days and new member induction was denied at a previous council meeting (Bega District News, 26/7), but the gun club requested that decision be reviewed in light of certain compromises being made.
The upshot of last week’s debate was that the matter was deferred for further reports, but not before several shooting range neighbours had their say.
Four Winds secretary Robert Tacheci reiterated the music festival’s previous concerns the attractiveness of its pristine environment to performers would potentially be threatened.
“It’s the combination of music and nature that increases exponentially the enjoyment of performances,” Mr Tacheci said.
“A pristine and amazing environment is essential to future success and there is no such thing as a part-time pristine environment.”
Both Mr Tacheci and gun club president Neville Brady spoke about the good working relationship the two groups have had in the past, but it seems now they have come to an impasse as both plan for increased use of their respective sites.
“We have no objective to the clay shooting range in principle, but it is in the wrong place,” Mr Tacheci said.
“We have always had a good working relationship with the shooting club, but it is essential there is no increase in its activity.”
Mr Tacheci said the council should look to facilitate exploring of alternative sites for the gun club and also to “quarantine” particular weekends against shooting activity, such as holiday long weekends.
Proprietor of Mimosa Winery Glenn Butson also spoke in opposition to the gun club’s activity, detailing the loss of a wedding ceremony and associated income to his business and to the town because of the “offensive noise”.
“What about couples who have already booked [a weekend wedding ceremony]?” he asked.
“Do we call them to say we can’t guarantee serenity? Do we return their deposit?”
Owner of an eco-tourism venture in the Murrah Gary Pearse also had concerns over the financial impact of increased gun club activity.
He said between his business and The Lagoon they contribute up to $200,000 a year into the local economy.
“Bermagui is a unique place where you can be a shooter, a fisherman, a soprano… a nudist… and it all works in harmony,” Mr Pearse said.
“We are a tolerant area, [but] the one thing that gels us together is that we live in a pristine, beautiful place.
“We are bringing people to this pristine area.
“To us this isn’t a hobby, it’s a business.”
Meanwhile, nearby resident Suzanne Foulkes raised concerns over contamination from lead shot and the “potential for huge remedial costs”.