PORT PHILLIP CONSERVATION COUNCIL INC. 

Telephone +61393769442, +61429176725                           12 Burton  Street, DROMANA VIC 3936

Facsimile 0395891680                                                                                            warfej@bigpond.com

A0020093K Victoria                                                                                      www.vicnet.net.au/~phillip

ABN 46 291 176 191                                                                                                         23rd March 2005

 

 

Hon. John Thwaites MLA

Minister for the Environment

 

Dear Mr Thwaites,

 

Ensuring the Substantial Impact of Boating Development in Mornington Harbour is Not Further Increased

 

Port Phillip Conservation Council Inc, a federation of 16 conservation organizations around Port Phillip, is concerned about the submission by Mornington Yacht Club to the former Minister for Planning, Hon. Mary Delahunty, in late 2004 for a supposed “Safe Harbourat Mornington. PPCC Inc. sees this as yet another call for a marina there.

 

Revival of a Discredited Proposal: The Yacht Club’s 1990 marina push would have overwhelmed the small restricted bay on the north side of the scenic and historic geological feature of Schnapper Point. It sought a 150-berth marina, a large extension of Mornington Pier, and the necessary Planning Scheme amendment. After public input to a Panel, the then Planning Minister, Hon. Robert Maclellan, wrote to the then Shire of Mornington in 1994 stating that “… the option for a marina in Mornington Harbour is no longer appropriate. Any future proposal for a marina in the vicinity of Mornington should be outside the Mornington Harbour, and would require an extensive, in depth study.”

 

Yacht Club Needs to Recognize Harbour’s Limits: We and we trust, you, recognize the Yacht Club’s unfortunate failure to accept that its site has reached the limit of acceptable expansion. The Club should consider itself extremely lucky to have achieved the extent of occupation of public coast and sea it has, and it should be encouraged to concentrate on refining and fairly sharing its present advantages among its members, and minimizing its existing environmental impact on its site and its already congested surroundings.

 

Threats to Mothers Beach and Overall Harbour Ambience: Mothers Beach, which is a popular, safe and well-sheltered shallow beach eminently suitable, as its name suggests, for families with small children, is plainly threatened by any further expansion of the Yacht Club near it, particularly by the proposed increase in power boats, with noise, wash and oil. The captioned aerial photograph at www.vicnet.net.au/~phillip/aerfo_g6.htm explains that. The view of the pier from the beach and the view of the beach from the pier, are now across the water surface, which is interrupted only by yachts on swing moorings. The considerable intensification of mooring density on that space planned, together with the accompanying hardware protruding from the sea, will destroy that quiet and restful ambience and scenery.

 

Faults in Yacht Club’s Assertions: The Mornington Yacht Club did not tell the whole truth, by its neglect in not disclosing to Mrs Delahunty the earlier Planning Minister’s emphatic rejection of its earlier plans in 1994.

 

Furthermore the Yacht Club, as Mornington Environment Association Inc. has also informed you, has claimed:

-  “the current proposal is less of an environmental risk than earlier proposals” - with no supporting evidence given

-   “the wavescreen sought for Mornington is an identical concept to that at Blairgowrie” - disregarding Blairgowrie sand build-up, and
    Mornington’s much more enclosed U-shape, being less scoured and more of a sand trap

assumes pier works be extended partially to provide further protection along the northern end of the pier” - this assertion goes well
   beyond the last consultations on pier work in 2002, which agreed to no more than a wave screen alongside the pier, but not beyond it.


Wavescreen Problems: Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron has asked Mornington Peninsula Shire for a permit to extend its sea-damaged wavescreen by 2 m down to the sea floor for more shelter, despite sand build-up inshore of it already. Its failure, and planned reversion to a full barrier, renders arguments for a wavescreen for Mornington extremely dubious.

Victorian Coastal Strategy:
The map of Port Phillip associated with the Access Principle of this Strategy is alarmingly discordant, and outdated, in its disparate designations of two sites marked with the inverted yellow triangle symbol below, Mornington and Frankston, compared with the blue square marking Patterson River, and the complete absence of a marking at Safety Beach. It is most odd that both the Mornington and Frankston sites, as the linked captioned photographs reveal, already have boating facilities that are significant, but that do not quite yet inordinately overwhelm their surrounding coastal landscapes and uses, whereas Patterson River and Safety Beach (Melway 97G5&6, 150E11&12 respectively) are the sites of very large and dominating marinas, whose existence is ignored in this key planning document for the coast. The document fails to note the considerable marina capacity extant at Patterson River (it notes it only as a Regional Boat Ramp) and the massive marina being built at Safety Beach, both of which would appear to qualify for a yellow triangle. Quite unlike Mornington and Frankston, both the Safety Beach and the Patterson River sites are on flat, low parts of the coast that are not outstandingly striking.


In contrast to its ignoring of Patterson River and Safety Beach, the map targets Mornington and Frankston each with a yellow triangle, earmarking them for a “Safe Harbour” as defined in the extract from the Strategy below. PPCC Inc. is well aware of the insidious use of the contrived term “Safe Harbour” (would anybody advocate building an unsafe harbour?) as a tactical euphemism to replace the unpalatable word “marina”, which has fallen into disrepute.

The Campaign for Closely-spaced “Safe Harbours” along the Coast is Misguided: PPCC Inc. Policy Statement No. 14, “Marinas in or Near Port Phillip” explains the reasons PPCC Inc. has for resisting the concept described by the coloured and tendentious term “Safe Harbour”. Of course no harbours should be unsafe, and an obvious first approach if safety is being seriously considered, should be, rather than providing new harbours, to either remove any existing unsafe harbours, or to make them safe, provided that does not involve any significant environmental damage.

 

A second approach is to work for far safer boating operations at sea away from the harbour. Major improvements in training of boating crews, and the licensing, and periodic inspection, re-assessment and retesting of crews and their boats, motors, safety and communications equipment, and anchoring and mooring provisions are needed. There should be a greater degree of seriousness and formality in relation to mandatory obtaining of a weather forecast covering the period of the voyage plan, and an onus on the crew to comply with published criteria for the relevant plan. The growth of mobile telephone and internet use greatly facilitates the practicability of such measures. All of those improvements are very much cheaper for the public than massive investment in building and maintaining an oversupply of harbours, they are more easily organized on a user-pays basis, and they are certainly more environmentally satisfactory.

 

Your Response would be Appreciated: Port Phillip Conservation Council Inc. trusts that you will give the points made above your full consideration. We would appreciate being informed of your response to our concerns, please.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Jenny Warfe

Secretary, Phillip Conservation Council Inc.