A vulnerable shore bird may have put skate park plans on the endangered list in a setback for a south-west council.
Moyne Shire Council released plans for a new Port Fairy skate park in September 2021 following extensive community consultation. But since the release of the plans, including the proposed site at the George Dodds Reserve, community members have raised concerns about the location being detrimental to nearby wildlife.
Corporate and community services director David Rae said the issue hadn't come up in the consultation process. "Questions have been raised about the proximity to a Latham's Snipe nesting area near the proposed location in George Dodds Reserve and what impacts the skate park may have on those migratory birds," he said.
Port Fairy skaters haven't had a dedicated locale to ride the concrete wave since the council condemned the existing skate park in January 2021, so many locals were keen to see construction on the new facility to start as soon as possible.
Mr Rae said the George Dodds Reserve site was still its preferred location but the issue had to be worked through properly.
"There are a number of other possible locations if the issues cannot be resolved at George Dodds Reserve, but they would require an extensive consultation and budget for a re-design process with the community," he said.
Mayor Ian Smith said either way there would be a significant delay on the project, which was supposed to be finished in 2023.
He said the delays had already pushed up the cost of the project as construction materials skyrocketed beyond the rate of inflation over the past year. "During this delay period, there has also been a significant escalation of costs - this is something being seen in construction projects across the country and council is not immune," he said.
The Latham's Snipe is listed as "near threatened", but as a migratory bird that spends its non-breeding season in eastern Australia, its habitat is protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Complicating matters further, the snipes don't congregate in large flocks like many other migratory birds, so any location that is known to host 18 or more birds is considered "important habitat" worthy of conservation.
Cr Smith hinted that the threat to the proposed site and the high construction costs might scupper the ambitious design presented last year. "Any change of location and increased costs would mean the proposed design will need to be changed."
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