Coastal sports under review

EDITORIAL: THE fine balance of protecting our fragile coastal environment with the aspirations of sports enthusiasts will come into the spotlight at tonight’s Warrnambool City Council meeting when a future directions plan for Crown land near Thunder Point comes up for debate.

It will determine the future direction of  four local sports groups — mountain bikers, golfers, harness racing enthusiasts and rifle shooters — and future protection of dunes and native vegetation.

In past years there was minimal protection for the Thunder Point reserve with motor vehicles, push bikes, horses and even a rubbish tip free to operate through the area.

However, in recent decades there has been a major shift in government and community recognition of the importance of protecting the natural environment. 

No longer is it acceptable to rip it out or drive unhindered through bushland and coastal dunes.

But just how heavy-handed should environment watchdogs be?

Judging by a special report on the South Warrnambool Crown land precinct the Department of  Primary Industry and Environment has tried to find compromises in its recommendations in determining land use for the sports groups.

However, it won’t win applause from the harness racing club or small bore rifle club which will need to find alternative bases while the golf club will have to abandon plans to expand on to part of the dune system.

Mountain bikers will most likely get a minimum five-year licence to extend the network of trails through Thunder Point scrub and on to part of the harness racing complex.

Hopefully the city council can help the other clubs find suitable alternatives so they too can survive for future generations along with the fragile coastal environment.

And as a footnote, maybe the council should consider better notification for key groups, alerting them when issues are included in council meeting agendas.

None of the groups involved in this issue knew about it until contacted by The Standard.

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