NOTICES of Motion are a good way to put something on the council agenda that wasn’t previously on the agenda.

And helping to set the agenda about coastal erosion at the Bass Coast Shire Council is Inverloch Councillor Leticia Laing.

At this Wednesday’s council meeting, Cr Laing is moving a Notice of Motion to get some action on Inverloch’s beach erosion problem.

And according to Cr Laing, if it’s left much longer, it won’t just be a beach problem, “council will have to deal with the loss of Surf Parade”.

It’s no idle threat, according to Cr Laing, referring to the 70 metres of beach that has already been lost to erosion.

“We don’t want to get to the point where the sea is lapping up on the edge of Surf Parade,” Cr Laing told the Sentinel-Times this week.

In her “background” explanation to council, Cr Laing notes a storm event poses an immediate risk:

“Should an extreme storm event occur at Wreck Creek in the next few months, the damage to Wreck Creek would not only see loss of an area of significant ecological value but would also leave Surf Parade and adjoining residences vulnerable,” said Cr Laing in her preamble to the Notice of Motion at this week’s council meeting.

Here’s what Cr Laing is proposing with her Notice of Motion:

“That Council:

(1.) Has consistently worked with and will continue to work with the Regional and Strategic Partnership (RaSP) for the Inverloch Cape to Cape Resilience project to develop a mid to long term framework to mitigate and adapt to coastal erosion from Cape Paterson to Cape Liptrap, with a special focus on Inverloch Foreshore.

(2.) Welcomes the progress of the Coastal Hazard Assessment, but notes there have been significant delays in the delivery of the Project now estimated for completion in March 2022 instead of the original date of August 2021.

(3.) Acknowledges that the State Government has invested $1.15million into protection works at the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Club which included $700,000 into the Resilience Project.

(4.) Notes that while the Coastal Hazard Assessment has been underway, a further eight metres of coastal foredunes have been eroded since February 2020, according to monitoring by the Inverloch Coastal Resilience Project. There has also been terminal scouring at the end of the rock wall at the Inverloch-Cape Paterson Road, which appears to have accelerated erosion at the adjacent Wreck Creek site.

(5.) Notes that the risk of further erosion, including the possible irreversible loss of the Wreck Creek fore-dunes, could be prevented by interim, low-key measures such as dune renourishment, wet sand fencing, dune revegetation and sand bags if required.

(6.) Requests that the Mayor write to the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, expressing its concern over delays on delivery of the Coastal Hazard Assessment, and the risk of permanent dune loss in coming months, and urging the State Government to: (a.) Commit to funding temporary coastal protection works at the Inverloch Foreshore, with a particular focus on the coastline at Wreck Creek, west of the Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club. (b). Commit to funding long-term adaptation and mitigation works for the abovementioned site upon completion of the Coastal Hazard Assessment.

Background by Cr Laing

Recent analysis by the South Gippsland Conservation Society’s Inverloch Coastal Resilience Project found that the coastline at Wreck Creek, west of the Surf Club, has receded by 70 metres since 2010 with about 2.8 hectares of dune vegetation having been swept away between Cape Paterson Road and the Surf Club.

Beach monitoring has confirmed that the coastline receded by eight metres since February 2020 alone, with the vegetated dunes receding by an additional 30 metres at the new Wreck Creek breakthrough.

Should an extreme storm event occur at Wreck Creek in the next few months, the damage to Wreck Creek would not only see loss of an area of significant ecological value but would also leave Surf Parade and adjoining residences vulnerable.

The Cape-to-Cape Resilience Project which was established in August 2020 is aimed at increasing resilience of the region, build knowledge of coastal hazards, inform strategic decisions and guide investment in adaptation.

While the Project aims to deliver a Coastal Hazard Assessment for Inverloch foreshore, the project is seen as a long term approach to coastal protection and has no funding allocated for interim measures to mediate coastal erosion, nor does the project have funding allocated at its completion to deliver on its findings.

Officers Comments

Officers have been actively contributing to RaSP working groups convened by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and are keenly aware of how complex and dynamic the coastal processes can be in the Cape Liptrap to Cape Paterson area. The Cape-to-Cape Resilience Project (including Coastal Hazard Assessment) is expected to significantly improve understanding of these processes, and inform more effective adaptation measures for the long term.

However, there is a risk that further erosion in the immediate to short term will result in significant loss of remaining dunes and vegetation, particularly at the mouth of Wreck Creek. While more permanent adaptation options informed by the Cape-to-Cape Resilience Project are identified, designed and installed, a relatively modest investment in easily reversible, short-term measures (such as dune renourishment) would seem prudent.

Cr Laing is asking her colleagues on council to support lobbying the state government for funding for both short-term and long-term measures to manage the erosion along the coast at Inverloch.