Last weekend I was down at the beach here in Inverloch and I was told that although the shire has passed and approved the next stage of the Inverloch shared pathway…[some people] are now looking to take the decision to VCAT.
Now this is unconfirmed however not something that surprises me.
Especially given [some people] have been actively working to block this vital piece of Inverloch infrastructure now for over a decade. I know I have been attending meetings in support of it for that same decade.
Erosion is the latest emotive call for the delay, followed closely by the removal of vegetation.
Let’s address the erosion, yes it’s reached a critical point and finally it has been indicated that the hard line solution that is happening in the rest of the country is finally about to happen.
No one I know denies the challenges of climate change, but that doesn’t mean that we can do nothing when it comes to protecting community infrastructure.
Rightly or wrongly we placed our life saving club and road to Cape where we did and I for one think our community wants them so the hard line solution has to be made.
We also naively planted non-indigenous grasses on our sand dunes in the 80s believing they would hold our dunes together.
However, the problem is it has also reduced nature’s capacity to replenish our coastal zones. With Inverloch’s case, reducing the capacity for sand to move in an easterly pattern over summer so when the large winter westerly swells come the sand movement is cyclic, west in winter and east in summer.
Removal of vegetation, yes there will be some removal but clearly is this all detrimental?
The independent environmental report commissioned by the shire on two separate occasions clearly states; In terms of the impacts on vegetation associated with path alignment, the following key points are made:
* The alignment has been located on the landward side of the foreshore vegetation abutting existing cleared and developed land.
This is the most appropriate location for the alignment for the
• The vegetation abutting the urban development is subject to edge effects including the incursion of exotic species.
• Vegetation within the middle of the reserve is likely to be ‘cleaner’ and contain higher quality vegetation.
In relation to loss of vegetation, not once in any communication have I seen the net gains that have been the result of the recent erosion events.
Yes, there has been considerable loss in the Cape Paterson end of the beach down towards Ozone Street. But what about the massive gains in the Ozone St to Pensioners Point zone?
For example, the surf break “inside corner” which I was surfing as recently as five years ago now has over head high coastal wattle growing where our take off point was.
The water is now about 100 metres out from its original location.
The Abbot Street spot that was considered so at risk that the last council held up the recently completed section of the path for over two years is now 150 -200 meters from the water.
Surely just as loss is noted, maybe the gains could also be in the conversation.
Recently our shire undertook what I suspect is the most inclusive and extensive community consultation ever conducted in our shire in relation to the pathway.
73 per cent of all respondents voted for the pathway with option 2 – the retention of parking.
This was taken to our elected representatives and accepted. I should note that all three of the ward councillors representing the Inverloch community voted for the pathway to proceed, fortunately, two other councillors also supported and saw that the people of Inverloch have spoken.
The most vocal opposition came from Cr Michael Whelan a Phillip Island ward councillor.
One wonders how the people of Phillip Island would feel if Inverloch residents lobbied our ward councillors to vote against something the 73 per cent of them had voted for?
Maybe Cr Whelan should focus on his own community and listen to the elected members of our ward and the overwhelming feedback our community is providing them with.
Our erosion issues are a challenge that must be tackled; addressing climate change must be a priority for all. But to blame a pathway is simply wrong.
To our leaders, please protect our community assets long term, like the rest of our country is doing put in a hard line.
Advocate and lobby at every opportunity to governments at all levels to adopt climate change mitigation policies.
But those against our path – it’s time that our kids should be safe riding to school and our community is able to access their beach.
Max Wells, Inverloch.
Get on with the Invy path