Crowds at a previous WSL event held on the Gold Coast.
Crowds at a previous WSL event held on the Gold Coast.

'Go somewhere else': Anger brews over World Surf League plan

Update, 2.30pm: Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson has revealed he does not support the proposed World Surf League event for Lennox Head.

"Lennox will already be bursting at the seems during the school holidays with many locals and visitors naturally wanting to surf at the point and head up to the Lennox Lookout," he said.

"Surely consideration needs to be given for local residents and the many visitors who have already booked to spend their holidays in Lennox/Ballina.

"The proposal from WSL is massive and will not only take over the Point and car parking areas for over two weeks but will likely lead to negative environmental impacts on the headland and cause more overcrowding and traffic chaos during one of the busiest times of the year.

"There is also the risk of COVID infections; will competitors and officials need to quarantine like the tennis players at the Australian Open?

"We've been so lucky not to have had any COVID cases for over six months.

"This proposed event could undo all the good work that has occurred to date.

Lennox Point.
Lennox Point.

"Furthermore a meeting has been hastily organised for this afternoon at 4pm with very little information and with the comment that the Deputy Premier is coming to Ballina on Thursday to announce the event.

"Feels like the decision has already been made and Council is being used to rubber stamp it with no details or an application being provided."

Cr Keith Williams said 90 per cent of the calls he had received were from people who were concerned.

However he felt the council would still support the WSL event.

"I think this will go ahead, so my focus is going to be on controlling the crowd size, so instead of 3000 people, maybe 500," he said.

"It becomes much more manageable.

"I'll also be asking for an environmental dilapidation report, with an independent assessor.

"And a community reference group needs set up from now on, if this is going to happen."

 

Original story: Anger is brewing over the World Surf League's proposal to host an event at Lennox Head over Easter.

Ballina Shire Council is holding an extraordinary meeting this afternoon to decide whether to support the event.

It's understood deputy premier John Barilaro will be in Lennox tomorrow to announce the state government's support.

But Ballina MP Tamara Smith said while she was in favour of surfing competitions generally, she has some concerns.

 

Crowds at a previous WSL Quiksilver Pro event on the Gold Coast.
Crowds at a previous WSL Quiksilver Pro event on the Gold Coast.

"I don't think it's fair that the deputy premier is strong-arming our council to make a very quick decision about a significant event during a pandemic," she said

"The community has not had time to contribute their thoughts.

"I would certainly want to see the details of a COVID-safe plan to hold that event.

"My concern will always be the pressure on our regional health system if there was an outbreak.

"Surfing is, to me, extremely low impact, and I would never talk down the opportunities for surfers to compete, for businesses to reap the benefits.

"But I do have concerns during a pandemic with international visitors."

The Lennox Head Ballina Boardriders club (Le-Ba) has reportedly told the WSL and the council they are in favour of the event.

But on social media, recreational surfers are rallying against the idea of the WSL Lennox Head round.

Popular Instagram page balna.nsw wrote: "Lennox Point needs our help from the big corporation WSL.

"There has been no consultation with the community at all #insulted."

They called on people to attend this afternoon's council meeting to voice their concerns.

More than 40 people have commented on the post.

lukehernage: "The negative impacts of such an event will grossly outweigh the positive. I hope this does not go ahead. The WSL were essentially kicked out of Hawaii "the home of surfing" for non compliance with COVID restrictions. Why are we happy to invite the circus here?"

rampobenjamin: "Bloody disgrace".

brendo276: "There are massive parking issues, it's a marine reserve where jet skis are banned, the rocks aren't exactly user friendly to walk on let alone sit on to watch".

cel_este_bb: "Disgraceful behaviour from all reported parties."

ohsiloh: "I couldn't easily access my house for two weeks because of Nicole Kidman, pretty sure the council don't give a flying f about anything but $."

by_ron: "Any body who wants money pumped into Lennox Head can move out. Since when did pumping money into a small country town make it better? Go somewhere else if you wanna make money … get lost, WSL".

marksy__81: "Why does the WSL feel the need to go to another spot in Australia? Why can't they just stick to Snapper or Bells? The two spots they have already over hyped and ruined, piss off WSL."

Webster Surfboards: "Very sad day for those who love that place."


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