East Gippsland Shire Council has voiced its concerns with a number of aspects of the Victorian Government on its Draft Marine and Coastal Policy, saying it would fundamentally change the way of life for East Gippsland communities.
Council’s submission, endorsed at the Council meeting on September 10, considers that the proposed draft policy will have a significant impact on the current operational activities for extensive sections of East Gippsland’s coastal Crown Land.
While all coastal land is Crown land, Council is committee of management for many coastal areas. The draft policy would apply to all land within five kilometres of the high watermark.
Mayor Cr Natalie O’Connell said Council’s model for managing activities on this public land is vital to the economic prosperity of coastal towns.
“Many of the towns along the coast and Gippsland Lakes are inextricably dependent on their coastal location for use, facilities and infrastructure.
“Our role as Committee of Management is critical to the key tourism economic driver for East Gippsland and the Gippsland Lakes,” Cr O’Connell said.
“The draft policy aims to, over time, decommission buildings, structures and access to private land by withdrawing permission to use coastal Crown land.
“It proposes to remove buildings and infrastructure such as private jetties, boat sheds, access and fishing huts as opportunities arise, but is not clear what those ‘opportunities’ are.
“Council has developed a number of foreshore management plans which has been an effective and efficient management system.
“These plans and processes are not recognised in the draft policy’s marine framework.”
Rural properties may also be affected, as the draft policy seeks to prohibit buildings and structures on ridgelines outside of towns. It would also prohibit erosion works and preventative actions which would benefit private landowners.
“Council feels the draft policy would have a negative impact on residents, recreational boating, and tourism.
“We don’t believe the draft policy has had the appropriate level of consultation with local government.
“We believe the use of jetties and boating in general is a ‘way of life’ for the Gippsland Lakes and public access to the lakes, islands and peninsulas should be available to all.
“Through this submission, Council hopes to have further discussions and engagement with the Victorian Government to ensure the final policy is suitable and appropriate for East Gippsland.”