Council ignores need for southern ramp at Russell Island, says resident

REDLAND City Council has removed references from online disaster management plans for the need for a ramp at Russell Island’s southern end, sparking the ire of a resident concerned about emergency evacuations.

Moreton Bay Combined Island Association treasurer Margaret Kemp said the online amendment showed council was neglecting Russell Island community safety.

Southern residents are connected to the island’s northern evacuation area by via routes linking to Centre Road, which are prone to flooding.

ROCKY POINT: Redland City Council has amended disaster plans to remove references to the need for southern boat ramps at Rocky Point and Sandy Beach.

ROCKY POINT: Redland City Council has amended disaster plans to remove references to the need for southern boat ramps at Rocky Point and Sandy Beach.

An older version of the island’s disaster plans spelled out the need for alternative barge or ferry landing sites at either Rocky Point or Sandy Beach to ensure southern residents could flee the island during emergencies.

The text was removed from the island's online disaster plans by council in June.

In correspondence to Ms Kemp, a council spokesperson said the island’s online disaster plan was updated after research found geographical features meant a boat ramp at Rocky Point was no longer a preferred evacuation point.

Flat-bottomed boats could be used at Sandy Beach but Rocky Point was found in emergency drills and research to be unsuitable.

“The Redland City disaster management plan was first developed in 2013, with a reference to Sandy Beach and Rocky Point being included as alternate assembly areas,” the spokesperson said.

“…. (It) was noted that both Sandy Beach and Rocky Point are affected by tides, tidal flats, shoaling and are generally only suitable for access by small boats.

“As a result of this exercise, it was determined that a Rocky Point boat ramp was no longer a preferred evacuation point and was removed from council’s plans on 20 June 2018.”

Ms Kemp said she believed council had cherrypicked the Fire Management Plan Review Report when responding earlier this year to petitioners’ calls for a ramp at Rocky Point. 

No recommendation for a southern ramp was made in the Fire Management Review Report, which instead recommends fire trails linking the south of the island with the north.

Ms Kemp said she believed the older disaster plan should have been referred to.

“Russell Island – being isolated – should have multiple exits, including a boat ramp at Rocky Point, which would be the only ramp on the western side of the island,” she said.

The council spokesperson told Ms Kemp that officers did not believe the Redland City Disaster Management Plan was relevant to councillors’ decisions about the ramp.

“Council officers were acting on the most current information available to them at the time and it would not have impacted council’s decision,” the spokesperson said.

A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said hydrographic surveys of the Rocky Point and Sandy Beach would be finished later this year.

Division five councillor Mark Edwards earlier this year said he understood islanders’ reasons for wanting a southern ramp at Rocky Point but also acknowledged restraints posed by the tidal area, which was shallow, flat and Ramsar-listed.