THE future of East Beach in Port Fairy remains under a cloud after the Moyne Shire failed to gain state government funds to prop up the disappearing dunes.
Last month, the council seized an opportunity to relocate a large amount of sand dredged up from Lady Bay — getting the go-ahead from the Warrnambool City Council.
But in a blow to the newly elected council, the government this week said it would not put up the funds to truck the sand from Warrnambool.
Moyne Shire had little more than a month to shift the sand, which it hoped to do with a $125,000 one-off grant.
Council chief executive officer David Madden said he was disappointed by the decision, which the council saw as a unique chance to bolster the rock wall. “We were very disappointed that we were unsuccessful for what was an unexpected opportunity,” Mr Madden said.
“We were after $125,000, which we know was outside the usual grant rounds … but we thought it was an opportunity too good to miss.”
Mr Madden said the council had contacted South West Coast MP Denis Napthine, who in turn took the matter to Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith.
He said there was no allocation within the council budget to truck the sand but said he would discuss the matter with the newly elected councillors.
Although the erosion of the beach has been slow, Mr Madden said there were serious concerns if erosion escalated at a former rubbish dump inside the sand dunes.
Council has received $200,000 from the state government to reinforce the rock wall, now nearing completion.
Further studies into the beach will also be conducted.
“We’ll keep applying for grants but the opportunity for the sand is gone — Warrnambool (city council) gave us until this week,” Mr Madden said.
The executive said control of the beach lay in the hands of the state government.
Speaking yesterday, Dr Napthine told The Standard Moyne Shire had not given the government enough time to properly assess the proposal.
“They virtually wanted the money next week,” Dr Napthine said.
“The government have provided significant funding for planned and submitted projects for East Beach — over $200,000.”
Despite describing the grant as “good idea”, Dr Napthine expressed doubt over whether or not it would have any effect in the short to medium term.