MACHINERY has been used at Port Fairy’s East Beach in a trial to remove rubbish exposed by erosion at the nearby former tip site.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and the Moyne Shire Council on Monday coordinated the trial, in which a bulldozer excavated waste materials.
DSE project manager Ross Gillett said erosion at East Beach was a priority for agencies and the trial was in addition to the regular manual clean-up of rubbish already under way on the beach.
“A dozer with a grabber will operate to take loose rubbish from the face and base of the eroded dune to prevent it accumulating on the beach,” Mr Gillett said.
“If using the machinery is successful without impacting on the stability of the dune we will continue with it as required.
“Any loose rubbish will also continue to be collected from the beach.”
The Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith is taking a keen interest in the progress of DSE, Moyne Shire and the EPA as they work together to respond to issues on the popular foreshore and is receiving weekly updates.
The next stage will be an environmental audit of the two old tip sites in the dunes to assess environmental issues and find the best way to address them.
The audit will be carried out by Moyne Shire and the landowner, DSE, in accordance with EPA requirements.
Port Fairy resident Max Holmes has been pushing for action at the beach for years and said he was relieved substantial work was finally under way.
“It’s something that really needed to be done,” Mr Holmes said.
“It’s been a long time coming.
“I was walking by the other day and there were 12 of the old sewage cans just behind the orange webbing council put up to keep people out.
“There’s no doubt some of the rubbish tip is being exposed.
“It’s lot more than aesthetic.
“The danger as a lot of people have pointed out is there’s a lot of glass exposed and getting washed out.”
Mr Gillett said the main focus was to ensure community safety and minimise environmental damage.
“All public access from Griffiths Street to the night soil tip site, including the dune top, has been closed with mesh fencing erected as a barrier.
“Warning signs and fencing have been installed at the top and bottom of the dune face.
“The environmental assessment will allow us to review the actions we are taking now and work out the best approach for DSE and council in the long term.
“In the meantime people are asked to observe safety measures, which include keeping out of the fenced off areas and taking care near the adjacent unstable dune face on the beach.”
He said erosion at East Beach was a long-term issue being addressed by government agencies through the Port Fairy Working Group.
The rubbish is mostly metal, glass and some other material, including fragments of asbestos.