Newsletter of Port Phillip Conservation Council Inc.

A0020093K Victoria

PP2005B July 2005                 www.ppcc.org.au


Constructing One's Own Canal and Groynes on Leopold Crown Seabed


The photograph below was taken by the President of Port Phillip Conservation Council Inc, Mr Geoffrey Goode, from a Channel 7 News helicopter over Leopold, near Geelong on the north coast of the Bellarine Peninsula, being used to produce that channelís evening news report on 13th April 2005 on a most extraordinary case of coastal and hinterland works, apparently occurring without any of the statutory permits required.


April 2005: Seawater basin dug & canal dug on seabed


The Crown seabed and a single large freehold lot, on which the works took place are shown in the photograph above. It is one lot west of Alexander Avenue (Melway 454F8), and is shown on Map 57 of the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme. The freehold lot is in a Rural Zone under the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme with no overlays applying. The adjacent seabed has been Crown land since 1788, and is in a Public Conservation and Resource Zone under the above planning scheme. There is no Crown, municipal, or other land or reserve between the freehold lot and the sea. We think there should be.

The three photographs at the right were taken as part of Port Phillip Conservation Council Incís program to establish a broad picture of the state of the foreshores around the Bay. The gradual transformation of this Leopold land was one of many areas of environmental concern along the north Bellarine coast, but PPCC Inc. innocently assumed that legitimate and approved agricultural drainage works were underway.

That assumption was proved wrong when Greater Geelong City Council investigated and found that it had no record of any approval being sought for the works, which had, by April 2005, produced the result at the left.



August 1998: Winter rains flood this natural low wetland



February 1999: Wetland drained by larger outlet to sea



March 2002: New straighter and larger outlet to sea dug


The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal made an Interim Order against D.and H.More in the above case on 22nd March 2005. That was followed by a directions hearing before the President of VCAT, Justice Stuart Morris, on 22nd April 2005, in which Greater Geelong City Council succeeded in obtaining amendment of the Interim Order, which dealt with urgent remediation works before likely winter rains. Victoriaís Department of Sustainability, and the owner of the freehold land in question, Mr Dennis More, were also heard by the Tribunal. A further hearing was set for September 2005.
Newspaper reports suggested that the approximately rectangular area of at least 2 hectares visible at the left of the 2005 photograph, which was recently excavated on the freehold lot, and connected to Port Phillip by a canal that was dug across the shallow seabed at the shoreline, was intended to be used as a marina. It is hard to think of any other likely intention, but it is also very hard to think of how such an intention could receive approval to become a practical commercial operation unless Victoriaís government and other authorities were unbelievably corrupt, incompetent or both. They are not.
The response by those authorities was prompt and decisive, although the final decision as to any penalties that might be imposed is yet to be made. It is hoped that penalties imposed will be effective in deterring any further attempts of this kind around Port Phillip. The gradual nature of this offence should have enabled earlier detection if more regular and thorough surveillance of changes and checking against approval records existed.
The Planning and Environment Act 1986 and the Coastal Management Act 1995 both provide significant penalties for the offences that appear to have occurred.


Channel Deepening: PPCC Inc. opposes further damage to the Bay


The Independent Panel on the original Channel Deepening EES recommended that a relatively small scale trial of the type of dredging proposed for the channel deepening be undertaken to let its environmental effects be assessed.

Port Phillip Conservation Council Inc. is opposed to such a trial because such dredging has the unacceptable weakness of adding a still very large amount of material to a hitherto undisturbed area of the seabed of the Bay. Opposition to such dumping of spoil on previously untouched sites is a main reason that PPCC Inc. has for its strong opposition to the original and main proposal.


Bicycle Road Damage to Kingston and Bayside Seafront and Coast Reserves


The decision by Hon. Mark Birrell MLC, the former Conservation Minister in the Kennett Government, to instigate a bicycle road right around Port Phillip was made without any public display of the details of the final route. Details of how sections of the road could be built without unwise environmental consequences were simply glossed over. The euphoria of the time blinded many to the unpalatable aftermath, which will be a blighted part of the environment for a long time to come.
A far fairer and more beneficial approach would have been to plan and demonstrate how difficulties caused by awkward lack of space for the bicycle road in cramped suburban sections could be reconciled with saving scarce remaining environmental qualities in those locations. Those foreseeable conflicts were just ignored.

That approach was not taken. Instead long, easily built sections were put in place first, leaving tricky sections, like the part of Brighton where there has never been a foreshore reserve vulnerable to fait accompli solutions, like ugly rock groynes, as in the depressing photograph below. That is only the southernmost groyne.



Building groynes for Brightonís seafront bicycle road


A different sort of damage is now threatening in the narrow, but important vegetated foreshore reserve between Cromer Road, Beaumaris, and the Mordialloc Creek. Kingston City Council consultants have indicated a serious blindness to the harm that their recommended bisecting of Kingstonís coastal reserve would do. PPCC Inc. has written to Kingston Council opposing the plan.


Copyright 2005: Port Phillip Conservation Council Inc.

47 Bayview Crescent, BLACK ROCK VIC 3193 A0020093K Victoria

President: Geoffrey Goode

Secretary: Jennifer Warfe

Tel: (03) 9598 0554