THE good news to come out of the latest missive from the ‘Cape Resilience Project Team’, after criticism that they’d broadened their Coastal Hazard Assessment to include Cape Paterson and Cape Liptrap is that they’re going to refocus on Inverloch’s pressing erosion problems.

In their community ‘Project Update #3’ for November, amongst all the technical jargon, the Inverloch Regional and Strategic Partnership Group (RaSP) has given reassurances that they are in fact making progress.

They’ve also noted that “option development, modelling of options and feasibility will initially explore ways to manage hazards at Inverloch Surf Beach and the coast adjacent to Inverloch”.

Hallelujah! They’re not going to expand the study to include the known universe after all.

But, as a community worried about the loss of 70 metres of beach since the government appointed the RaSP in October 2019, there remain some very concerning details in the latest update.

Number one, the report no longer promises that the Coastal Hazard Assessment will be completed by the end of March 2022.

The report reveals that much of the work done to date involves desktop studies and modelling that need to go through a peer-review process before they can be presented.

And there’s likely to be a sting in the tail of future reports which will identify what could happen to “assets”, under frequent storm conditions and rarer, more extreme storm events, as well as sea level rise, “if no mitigation or adaptation was undertaken”.

By “assets”, read such things as beach, Wreck Creek, road infrastructure, foreshore houses, the surf club and the like.

Project coordinator for the South Gippsland Conservation Society, Philip Heath, was pleased to see some progress and also more focus on the Inverloch Surf Beach but he was concerned to see the project group didn’t provide a timeline.

“There is also no response to the community and council requests for short-term dune renourishment works while the long-term strategy is being developed,” Mr Heath said.

“I understand that the Cape-to-Cape team is waiting on a beach monitoring report from the Inverloch Inter Agency Working Group, so I think we should give them another week or so for their response.

“In addition, we expect that their Community Values study will be released in the next week. The Stakeholder Reference Group has been invited to an online meeting in two weeks, so we will be looking for a response to the necessary short-term works the community is seeking.”

Meanwhile, preparations for the rally are in full swing.

“We’re distributing online and hard copy rally posters around town and to our networks, and finalising an Eventbrite advert which will go live soon.

“We are completing a refresh of the Inverloch Coastal Resilience Project exhibition, which we hope to have on display at Bunurong Education Centre from next week.

“We are also finalising a petition which will be available for signing at BEC from next week, and will be available online. If we get a good response, we’ll be able to highlight at the rally.”

Next steps

According to the project update, the “next steps” include the following:

• Following peer review, the Coastal Hazard Assessment results will be used to examine exposure, risk and vulnerability for our coastal areas and assets in more detail. We will also be undertaking an economic assessment to understand potential costs of coastal hazards for the Cape-to-Cape communities if no mitigation or adaptation was undertaken.

• Each assessment and stage provides the project team with important information to carefully develop suitable adaptation options.

• The economic assessment can also be used to justify investment in adaptation.

• Over the next couple of months, we will be considering the range of available adaptation options for the Cape-to-Cape region. Option development, modelling of options and feasibility will initially explore ways to manage hazards at Inverloch Surf Beach and the coast adjacent to Inverloch.

• The community continue to have a role in informing our adaptation approach, including options that we consider for managing hazards.

There’ll be no hazard assessment and no action on erosion before Christmas, but there will be something published: The Community Values Study will be available on the project website in December.

Interested community members are encouraged to “keep an eye out on the Cape to Cape Resilience Project website in the next couple of months for our latest factsheets, the Community Values Study, and upcoming engagement opportunities”.

Inverloch residents should also keep an eye out for the ‘Rally Round Our Dunes’ event on Wednesday, January 12 on the beach at Inverloch – a community-initiated meeting designed to inject some more urgency into Inverloch’s erosion problem ahead of the next Federal and State elections, due in 2022.