Skipper Jim Paterson of Lake Burley Griffin Cruises. Photo: Jay Cronan
The ACT government's dreams of a working boat harbour at Kingston Foreshore have been sunk by an Environment Protection Authority ban on heavy repair marine work in the upmarket waterside precinct.
But Lake Burley Griffin's boatie community reckons it's full steam ahead for a compromise plan that would see a boat slipway and maintenance shed built at Yarralumla, at the other end of Lake Burley Griffin.
Plans for the Kingston Foreshore have always included turning the exclusive new lakeside neighbourhood into the hub for boat operators on the lake, including the slipway and facilities that would allow out-of-water repairs to be carried out on the larger craft that ply the lake.
But the environment watchdog stepped in last year, telling the Land Development Agency that heavy boat repairs and the Foreshore's multimillion-dollar penthouses just would not mix.
''The Environment Protection Authority had raised concerns regarding noise generated by boat maintenance, particularly in relation to the dry, out of water, maintenance activities at the proposed slipway,'' a spokesman for Economic Development Minister Andrew Barr told The Canberra Times.
''The EPA had also advised that the power tools would breach noise control limits within residential areas.
''As a consequence of this, the operational slipway would be severely jeopardised.''
The marina that is due for completion at the Foreshore in August will not have a slipway, but will have mooring bays and a jetty, an embarkation point, pump out and daytime storage facilities and minor repair capabilities.
After compiling a shortlist of eight different spots around the lake, the Land Development Agency has plumped for the inlet at Attunga Point, beside the Canberra Yacht Club at Yarralumla.
Tour boat operator Jim Paterson, of Lake Burley Griffin Cruises, said the proposed new spot had been a hit with the other cruise and charter companies.
''The place that they are looking at for it in Yarralumla is probably the best for a whole range of reasons, not least of which is it will not be particularly visible,'' Mr Paterson said.
''The means that the heritage vista of the lake will be preserved.''
The cruise operator said a slipway was vital to maintain commercial craft on the lake and for any future development of commercial operations on the waterway.
''The commercial vessels need to have an out-of-water survey every second year so that they can maintain commercial operations,'' he said.
''The current temporary slipway is a primitive affair but it allows us to have our inspections so we can keep operating.
''I think that the powers that be both federal and local need to understand that no slipway ultimately means no commercial operations.''
Over at the Canberra Yacht Club, chief executive officer Matthew Owen was sanguine about the prospect of a new neighbour.
''It really wouldn't bother any of current operations,'' Mr Owen said.
''The project that the LDA and the NCA are talking about, that will be adoptable for the future, so whatever they're going to will be available for what is on the lake now and what will be on the lake in the future.''
Mr Barr's spokesman said a heritage impact assessment statement for the Attunga Point site was being prepared and ''further consultation will be undertaken with relevant stakeholder groups before a final decision will be made by the National Capital Authority''.