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Radical coastal plan calls for ‘super council’

Relocation of Port Fairy’s golf course and Belfast Lough air strip and bans on new wind farms near the coast have been suggested in a new report calling for greater protection of threatened coastal environments.

It also suggests the creation of a mega municipality called West Coast Shire by merging the City of Warrnambool, Corangamite Shire and Moyne Shire.

The Victorian National Parks Association’s (VNPA) “Coast is Unclear” report also urges rejection of the proposed biodiesel plant at Levys Point and proposed extension of the Great Ocean Road from the Bay of Islands to Warrnambool.

It recommends establishment of new and expanded parks in the south-west and purchase of private land to increase protection for flora and fauna, some of which is rare and endangered.

Catchments for Moyne, Merri, and Curdies rivers plus Yambuk Lake have been listed as in poor condition.

“Clearly we need a new vision and comprehensive coastal policy that protects Victoria’s remaining coastal nature and ensures we do not love our coastline to death,” VNPA marine spokesman Simon Branigan said.

“In a state election year the VNPA is calling on all political parties to release comprehensive coastal and marine policies in the lead-up to the state election in November.”

It found four per cent of Victoria’s coastal land abutting the high-water mark was in private ownership with much of this between Portland and Warrnambool.

The Port Fairy suggestions to investigate relocation of the golf course and airstrip are part of a recommendation to create a new Belfast Coastal Park.

This new park would include the lough and Crown land in the existing Belfast Coastal Reserve, Griffiths Island and Shelly Cove plus Levys Point and Thunder Point at Warrnambool.

Under the VNPA vision, if the golf course and airstrip were relocated the land would be restored to a more natural state and included in the proposed Belfast Coastal Park.

Port Campbell National Park is recommended for merger with the Bay of Islands Coastal Park and expansion by incorporating nearby smaller Crown land parcels and private land.

There is also a call for private land north of the Port Campbell park to be purchased for realignment of the Great Ocean Road.

Cape Bridgewater comes in for mention with a call for existing wind farm towers to be removed at the end of their contract life and a ban on further such developments along the sensitive coastline.

Moyne Shire’s planning overlay is cited as a model for environmental overlays on private land to provide greater protection for coastal and hinterland environments.

The creation of a mega West Coast Shire is a suggested solution to streamline effective local government management.

“Having 21 municipalities with coastal boundaries is far too many for consistent, integrated and effective coastal planning and management,” the report says.

It also calls for in-depth environmental assessment before expansion of boat launching and mooring facilities.

The report was commissioned to generate public discussion and provide input into the state government’s forthcoming new Victorian Coastal Strategy.

VNPA is a member-based non-profit organisation dedicated to protection of Victoria’s natural environment.