Bega Valley Shire Council approves changes to fossicking permits

GOLDEN: Tathra's Doug Spindler, holding a piece of pretend gold, will be one of the happy fossickers after council's decision earlier this year.
GOLDEN: Tathra's Doug Spindler, holding a piece of pretend gold, will be one of the happy fossickers after council's decision earlier this year.

Fossickers will soon be able to descend on the region with fewer restrictions after Bega Valley Shire Council declared the area a fossicking district earlier this year.

The decision came after NSW and ACT Prospectors and Fossickers Association Inc. president Stephen Dangaard and committee member Doug Spindler gave a presentation to councillors in December to remove “red tape” around their recreation.

Under the old regulations, if private land was under a exploration lease held by a mining company, permission had to be obtained from the company before fossicking for gold.

A permit was also required from Forestry Corporation to search for gold in state forests. 

Mr Dangaard said if one wanted to fossick around a mine in a state forest, they needed the Forestry Corp permit as well as permission from the company that held the exploration lease around the mine, if there was one.

But in fossicking districts, one only needed the permit.

The changes are before the NSW Geological Survey where Mr Dangaard is confident they will be gazetted.

“We’re really delighted the council gave us a good hearing,” Mr Dangaard said.

“They asked us some good questions and were happy with how we responded.

“We’re really happy that the Bega Shire has come on board because it recognises the value of a small interest group and the potential for geo-tourists to the shire.”

The decision came before Eurobodalla Shire Council last week voted to join 27 other local government areas in NSW as a fossicking district.

Tourism manager Cath Reilly said the declaration had the potential to expand awareness of Eurobodalla’s mining and geological heritage.

“It will also add another dimension to the suite of tourism experiences that we already promote focusing on Eurobodalla’s vibrant history and heritage,” she said.

There are about 50,000 fossickers in NSW according to the state government, injecting about $20 million a year into regional economies.