The following letter was sent to Bass Coast Shire councillors pre the 2019-20 Budget vote last week, where there was a failed push for a coastal hazard assessment before proceeding with the extension of the Inverloch Surf Parade path. The author then forwarded the letter on to the Sentinel-Times for Letters to the Editor.
Dear Mayor Cr Tessari and Councillors,
I would like to begin by saying I am categorically not a climate change denier, the planet is changing, sea levels are rising and we are experiencing significant storms on what seems to be a more regular occurrence.
However, to use climate change as the primary reason for stopping the building of the proposed pathway in Inverloch is simply not right.
The pathway is a vital piece of infrastructure that our town needs and should have had for over a decade.
The extension to the west side of town has continually been held up by emotive green based argument not based legitimately on science or erosion but realistically based on the opposition to the removal of vegetation.
The extension you finished a couple of years ago was initially held up by a former Councillor, based on a non-existent erosion argument at the end of Abbott Street.
Anyone who has been there in recent times would note that the main inlet outlet is now almost 200 metres from where it was back then.
I have lived in Inverloch now for almost 40 years and my primary recreation is based firmly around the ocean and in particular the sand movements associated with the sand bank formations, which create the waves we surf on. I was also an outdoor education teacher in my initial career here and used Inverloch main beach and inlet on an almost daily basis in my teaching programs.
I can comfortably tell you that I have seen, during periods of high tide and large swell, the sea levels within 10 metres of the fence at Ozone Street and as far up in main beach car park as the location of the current surf life saving clubhouse.
But this was in the 1980s when the whole sand dune structure was different; it was the legitimate primary and secondary structure as nature intended it.
Then we as a society decided that sand dunes needed to be stabilised and we planted non-indigenous weeds such as marram grass and others that tided the sand together.
The outcome of this is the huge high sand dunes that now exist with non-indigenous to the zone vegetation such as the tea tree, which are now there.
The result of these decisions has meant sand cannot move in its natural flow from east to west in the summer months and then west to east during the winter months when we get the large swell episodes.
Thus, the erosion we currently have is as a result of poor human decision-making in the ‘80s and the non-acknowledgement of climate change by our governing bodies.
We need legitimate science-based management systems to control erosion along the Inverloch foreshore particularly in the flat rocks to Goroke Street region and I applaud that you and other legitimate government offices are looking at science-based solutions.
It is a shame that the current trials were put in at the wrong time of year and thus not given a chance to see if the work, but at least legitimate attempts were made and should be continued to be worked on.
You have recently undertaken a very extensive and I suspect expensive community consultation process in relation to the shared pathway and options as to how it should be built.
Options put forward of which I am a strong supporter of option 2, but as was pointed out to me by a number of councillors, it would be the public who would decide the ultimate plan for implementation.
I personally had my say during this process. I believe it was a legitimate consultative process and as such the outcome should be the end result. Let it be as the numbers have voted.
But for Dave Sutton as reported in the local paper (June 12), to say erosion is the basis for not building the pathway is simply in my opinion a sham.
In the first 2/3 Veronica Street to just before Ozone Street of the proposed extension, there is more distance from the proposed pathway to the high tide mark than any time in the whole time I have lived here.
As I stated earlier I have seen the ocean reach the current location of the life saving clubhouse but we as a community/shire allowed it to be built so it is a community asset and as such must be protected.
Therefore, legitimate protection must be put in place.
How the building of the pathway will impact on this I fail to see, as it has already been identified as to value of the clubhouse.
In terms of vegetation removal has anyone measured the net gains associated with the vast sand movements, there are hectares of vegetation in the zone roughly from Toorak Road to Ozone Street that were not there even five years ago.
Should you wish to be shown this please just let me know as I can show you where others and I were surfing only five years ago at a wave called inside channel. This wave is now at least 100 metres from the high tide line.
So to you all, I implore you to continue to lobby for and work towards the protection of our vital assets in relation to the erosion zones and to work towards influencing governments of all levels as to the dangers of climate change and the bringing about better climate outcomes.
But also implore you to not be influenced by a small minority who simply do not for their own reasons want the pathway extended.
If the community consultation has endorsed the build then please do so, it is a vital piece of community asset that for the health, safety and wellbeing of our town and we need it.
Max Wells, Inverloch.