Upgrade works to Warrnambool's Lady Bay embattled boat ramp have been stopped at the eleventh hour due to concerns around nearby whales.
The council says it has "pressed pause" on the much-needed works, but did not say when the revamp would begin.
Ramp upgrades and the replacement of two jetties, as well as dredging works were due to begin on Monday, however the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) says the council is yet to submit a construction environment management plan.
Warrnambool City Council mayor Vicki Jellie said the upgrade of the Lady Bay boat ramp and Port of Warrnambool dredging was "expected to begin over coming months".
Site preparations began late last month with storage and worksite compounds established and Victorian firm Bridgewater Marine was due to being work on the ramp this week.
The jetty construction includes piles to be driven into the seabed by a hydraulic hammer.
Cr Jellie said the council, Better Boating Victoria, DELWP and the contractor were working to finalise a program of works "minimising potential impacts to the marine environment".
She said with at least one whale at Lady Bay for the calving season, careful consideration was being made for any construction activity.
"So we support the guidance by DELWP and have pressed pause on the commencement of the project," she said.
"We've discussed the timing of the project with the contractors appointed to carry out the ramp upgrade and the dredging, along with the funding body Better Boating Victoria, the Victorian Fisheries Authority, and we're all on the same page."
However, a DELWP spokesman said Warrnambool City Council was responsible for the timing of the works.
He said DELWP provided approval under the Marine and Coastal Act in March 2022, subject to approval of a construction environment management plan.
The plan is a project-specific plan to ensure appropriate environmental management practices are followed during construction to protect the environment and minimise disruption to the community. It shows what the contractor must do during construction.
He said a plan was being worked on by Warrnambool City Council and had not yet been submitted.
"Once submitted by council, DELWP will consider the CMP as quickly as possible," he said.
"To assist council, DELWP is providing advice regarding potential impacts of construction on the marine environment, including on whales which are frequenting the area this time of year."
DELWP said it would consider the construction management plan on its merits when it was submitted.
Cr Jellie said it was yet to be determined if the delay would result in increased costs, but acknowledged it would be managed within the existing project budget. As the project is funded externally, it will not have council budget implications.
The planned dredging will shape the seabed profile in the harbour to redirect waves away from the ramp, improving safety for boaters and making it easier to launch and retrieve vessels.
The project is being funded with a $3.5 million grant in partnership with Better Boating Victoria, the Victorian Fisheries Authority.
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