by Michael Giles
ON BALANCE, the Mahers Landing marina and associated residential development, proposed by Jason Yeap, chairman of the Mering Corporation, near Inverloch, appears to have merit.
In its favour is that part of the 250-hectare site, largely a degraded farming property anyway, would be revegetated with upwards of 72 hectares being developed into a nature reserve, while the rehabilitation of wetlands could also provide habitat for native species.
The Metung style of the development would add another dimension to this part of the Bass Coast Shire, attracting participants in the increasingly popular boating sector and providing somewhere else for the burgeoning coastal pressure to be accommodated.
The company and its investors are proven developers likely to follow through on their plans with the resulting benefits to the economy and jobs market in the development stages and on-going.
With up to 2000 additional residential sites, the shire would receive a welcome boost in rate revenue.
But there are issues.
Firstly, the Mering Corporation needs to be completely upfront about the range in the number of new residential allotments that might be created and the resulting social, environmental and economic dividend that could be generated by it.
Ultimately, investors in this project will want to maximise their return so the opening gambit, including the size of the environmental buffer and other ‘benefits’ should be negotiated up, up, up by the shire.
And they may need to employ their own environmental and developmental experts to see that we get the best outcome.
Anderson Inlet is also an important fish nursery and habitat, and any amount of dredging would have an adverse impact on that. There’s also the potential for the disturbance of acid sulfate soils, although this can be controlled.
The reality is, however, that if you allow what could be a 2000-allotment satellite town to be developed further up Anderson Inlet, you are opening up the prospect of the town expanding over time, in the direction of Mahers Landing unless there are strong planning and developmental controls in place.
You also want to ensure that the project doesn’t create any costly legacy issues for the shire and the community.
Will the development group be able overcome these considerable obstacles? If I was a betting man, I’d say no, but they are a well-resourced, highly motivated organization going after a big prize so who knows.