Beach damage documented
I read with amazement ‘Cr says training will help beach’ The Standard, January 5, in regard to Spookys beach. Cr Peter Hulin is quoted as saying that "his fellow councillors had been shocked by the state of Spookys”. He couldn’t "believe that nobody in the 10 years" of him being a councillor had spoken to him about the issue, “not one word of concern". In doing some research I found a number of management plans that highlight issues regarding environmental values in coastal areas around Warrnambool. The Warrnambool Coastal Action Plan (1999) outlines issues in the Levy’s Point Coastal Reserve such as ‘inappropriate and unrestricted beach access’ and ‘unstable dune systems’ while a later report commissioned by WCC titled the Warrnambool Coastal Management Plan (2013) lists key management issues of the Wild Coast Precinct (an area that includes Spookys and Levys beaches) as being: conservation management of native flora and fauna; pest plant and animal management; unauthorised vehicle, motorbike, and pedestrian access; dune instability; rubbish dumping and littering; competing and conflicting uses; unauthorised domestic and commercial animals access; fire management; existing licence agreements and work authorities and threats to environmental values outside the management area. Another report also commissioned by WCC titled Warrnambool Coast Vegetation Management Plan (April 2012) highlights a number of environmental issues; for example, "… An unsealed road extends west from Midfield Meats. Due to this access, weed dispersal, rubbish dumping and illegal 4WD and motorbike disturbance of the dunes are problems...". Cr Hulin asks "... who has been in charge of that area?" Page 4 of the Warrnambool Coastal Management Plan says “Warrnambool City Council (WCC) is the Committee of Management (CoM) established under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 to manage Warrnambool’s coastline which stretches approximately 12.7 km from Levy’s Point Coastal Reserve in the west, to Logans Beach in the east”. In doing some further research I found that Cr Hulin, despite claiming he was shocked by the state of Spookys and that no one has told him about the issues, was indeed present at the council meetings where WCC approved the release of the draft Warrnambool Coastal Management Plan for public comment (Sep 30, 2013) and again present when it approved the plan on Feb 24, 2014. In this same meeting WCC approved the Warrnambool Coast Vegetation Management Plan. It is obvious the environmental issues have been known to WCC and the council has indeed commissioned management plans to give guidance on management principles that will ensure compliance with the Crown Land Act and the Coastal Management Act. However due to a lack of active management of the area and a lack of positive leadership by the majority of our councillors nothing has been done to rectify the issues at hand. Given this, how does Cr Hulin expect the people of Warrnambool to trust his word that the commencement of racehorse training is an opportunity for the area to be cleaned up, WCC has had decades to clean the area up and has simply sat on their hands. Cr Hulin is quoted "somebody has to be held accountable for the destruction". I’ll be holding Cr Hulin accountable come the WCC elections in 2020 and voting for a council that looks after its local environment.
Sam Worrall, Warrnambool
Re-think bus stop
When I travel from Melbourne to Killarney I spend over three-and-a-half hours on the train and then about 40 minutes on the bus (through Killarney) to Port Fairy. I then have to catch another bus back to Killarney making my travel time just on six hours. There is a bus stop in Killarney and it is on the designated travel route. Often when the bus stops in Koroit no one gets on or off the bus. The Public Transport Ombudsman (Treasure Jennings) says she has no power to even investigate this matter.
Jim Flanagan, Killarney
Horses on beach plan ‘balanced’
The Andrews Labor Government has worked extensively with the Warrnambool community to get the balance right on the Belfast Coastal Reserve. Before we did, there were no controls in place for racehorses on the beach. Four-wheel-drives were ripping up the dunes and dogs were off-leash throughout. Flora and fauna were taking a beating. The Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan was designed to address this – to protect the reserve while allowing some opportunity for recreation and horse training. The racing industry brings significant benefits to the south-west, including jobs that boost the local economy and allow young people to find work close to home. We know locals value it greatly. So we’ve worked hard to find a balance. Commercial horse training will now only be allowed in an area approximately 1.5 kilometres in length under strict licence conditions. Four-wheel-drives will be banned, to let the sand dunes recover. Dogs must be leashed or are banned in sensitive areas, to protect shorebirds. The planning scheme amendment recently passed merely gives effect to the plan announced last year – a plan that underwent high levels of consultation and was publicised at every stage. Under it, approval for commercial racehorse training and access via the Levys Beach car park expires in November 2019. Racehorse access will then be relocated to Spooky’s Beach, and the beach training area for horses will be reduced from 2.3 to 1.5 kilometres, to further ease the impact on the environment. This was supported by the city council in December with a vote of 6 to 1. The plan will be reviewed in two years to see if we’re getting the balance right. More than 800 people took part in the consultation process for the plan – all feedback was carefully considered. We’ve now boosted resources, with Parks Victoria employing two full-time rangers to ensure the plan is followed, including making sure dogs are on leads to address the most devastating impact on hooded plovers – dog attacks on chicks. Our community has lots of people with different needs and wants. We want to walk our dogs on beaches, we want to protect native wildlife, we want to drive through areas we enjoy and we want jobs for ourselves and our children in the areas where we live. The Belfast Coastal Management Plan is a wholehearted road map created by the entire community to balance all these issues, and with it we look forward to a more protected future for this beautiful coast.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, and Minister for Planning, Housing and Multicultural Affairs, Richard Wynne.