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Critics slam Inverloch pathway plan


ACTION NEEDED: Climate change was much on the agenda at Bass Coast Shire Council’s meeting last week, with many interested onlookers, like Stella Hitchins and Naomi Coleman, applauding the declaration of a climate emergency.  

MATT DUNN

 

BASS Coast Shire Council has become an environmental friend and foe, according to residents who attended council’s general meeting last week. 

While environmentalists applauded a vote by councillors to declare a “climate emergency” and advocate for a zero emissions shire by 2030, they were flabbergasted by council’s backing of a plan that will see almost half a hectare of native vegetation removed from Inverloch’s fragile dunes.

The $1.5 million Surf Parade Shared Path project, which will include 138 car parks, was given the green light by the majority of councillors.

“If ever a decision was clear that a climate emergency was required this is it. Not an hour after council’s climate emergency declaration, we have this,” Inverloch’s Ed Thexton said after the meeting.

South Gippsland Conservation Society’s Philip Heath said an updated report by council “doesn’t consider the dynamic nature of the coastline”.

He said council’s “medium risk” assessment of the stability of Inverloch’s coastline was way off the mark, as evidenced by the recent collapse of sand there.

“The real risk is much higher. How can council make a responsible decision when you’ve actually got a higher risk reality?” Mr Heath said.

He said council had not offered discussions about “the implications of the risks associated with clearing vegetations off the dunes”.

He was angered by “a bland statement from council that clearing vegetation will have no effect on dune stability”.

Fellow society member Alison Oates said there was emerging local and international scientific evidence that says “the whole of the dune system needs to be vegetated to slow down coastal recession”.

Another society member, Dave Sutton, said it was a case of “a death by a thousand cuts”.

“It’s incremental and you don’t notice it. Then it’s gone,” he said.

They are miffed council has not taken into account the society’s recently released Inverloch Coastal Resilience Project report, which has the backing of Victorian Marine and Coastal Council.

The report paints a grim picture for the future of the local coastline, with flora, fauna and the town itself all under threat from rising tides and receding sand.

The report found that since 2013, the Inverloch surf beach had lost an average of six metres per year, making it one of the most rapidly changing coastlines in the state.

Cr Michael Whelan said reports commissioned by council on the proposed pathway gave council “the results they want”.

“We’ve got some bandaids down on the beach and they keep getting ripped out off the beach – that’s the wet sand fences. We don’t know how to handle this,” he said.

“This decision should be pending a coastal hazard assessment.”

Earlier in the evening Cr Whelan moved the “climate emergency” motion, which included an aspiration of “a target of zero net emissions by 2030 for both emissions attributable to council’s own operations and emissions attributable to the broader Bass Coast community”.

Council officers have flagged that the decision would cost about $200,000 for the planned ‘Climate Change Action Plan 2020-30’.

 

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=29899

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