Fresh push for national park at Ginninderra

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Canberra Time Artiicle by NOEL TOWELL, 1 November 2011

A renewed push is under way for a new national park in the north of the ACT.

Activists are campaigning for a 700 hectare area straddling the NSW-ACT border on both sides of the Murrumbidgee River, just outside West Belconnen, to be given national park status.

More than 50 people, including MLAs from the Government and the Greens, attended a forum at the Legislative Assembly in Civic yesterday to discuss ways to reinvigorate the campaign for the Murrumbidgee-Ginninderra Gorges National Park.

The group wants to secure the status for an area around the two spectacular waterfalls on Ginninderra Creek, arguing that the natural beauty and ecological significance of the area should be give official status.

The meeting was told that any proposal would have to secure the backing of Yass Valley Council, the NSW Government, the ACT Government, private landholders and possibly the Commonwealth Government.

But the campaigners believe that the idea of a national park could work, pointing to examples around Australia where parks sustained themselves with visitors' fees.

The Canberra Times revealed in July that developers were well advanced with plans to build up to 4500 houses in the area, leaving the river corridor as a natural buffer and creating the territory's first cross-border suburb.

A spokesman for the Murrumbidgee-Ginninderra Gorges National Park Community Working Group, Graeme Barrow, said yesterday the outstanding natural features of the area prompted the group to put forward the proposal. ''The area was likely to come under increasing pressure, especially if a large housing development suggested for West Belconnen became a reality,'' Mr Barrow said.

''The two waterfalls on Ginninderra Creek have been closed to the public for some years, but before that attracted thousands of fee-paying visitors.''

Government MLA Mary Porter attended last night's meeting and Greens leader Meredith Hunter facilitated the gathering. But the Greens have not yet decided on a position on the proposal.

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