Warrnambool's "enclosed" harbour is a step closer as $330,000 from the state government has been re-purposed to develop final designs of a spur off the breakwater.
The state government cash was originally in last year's budget for a sand movement study for design plans required as part of the Warrnambool Harbour Master Plan.
But now the funding will be used to complete rock armouring designs and documentation for the ailing breakwater and a concept design for harbour protection options, including a spur breakwater.
Warrnambool mayor Tony Herbert has been working with user groups for more than a year to come up with a shovel-ready plan for upgrades.
"It has been a passion project for me and the whole council," he said.
"I think this is a good, compromised plan to keep the users of the whole area happy and the people that value the environment happy as well. The government was hardly going to throw money at this project unless they saw community support.
"We've been able to achieve that and now this money will allow all the plans and drawings to be done. The added complication has been the refurbishing of the breakwater.
"This money that the Labor government has dedicated to Warrnambool will allow us to be ready for a full blown, shovel ready application to the government to be funded. We are really confident after all this work we have the potential to get this project off the ground."
Master mariner Rodney 'Snake' Blake welcomed the cash.
"It's magnificent," he said. "We were stuck with nothing for years with no progress. Applications were going nowhere. Now we have some movement. It's in the right direction. It's no more studies, these are final drawings."
He said there would be benefits for the economy and the community if the upgrades were completed.
"It's not just us boat users," he said.
"The whole community will benefit with improvements to the infrastructure. If we can get 15-20 per cent of the tuna boats going past, that's a lot of money. Retails shops, hotels, accommodation, petrol stations - there will be a spin off effect that will benefit everyone."
Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said the funding was about protecting the harbour for future generations, supporting the local economy and growing jobs.
Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney said the future development of the harbour would support local jobs and boost the regional economy by increasing visitation.
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