Rock delay to Esplanade opening


mt martha north cliffs1ROADWORKS to repair a landslide on the Esplanade between Mt Martha and Safety Beach are unlikely to be finished until February.

VicRoads originally announced the road would reopen in time for Christmas, but now says the contractor “struck rock” leading to a “minor change in the scope of work”.

The landslide occurred in July last year, but repairs were delayed for some months because the affected area required preparation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan to protect Aboriginal artefacts.

Two other landslides on the Esplanade in recent years were fixed without the need for a CHMP, despite the entire coast being seen as an area of “cultural heritage sensitivity” under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

The tops of cliffs at Mt Martha Beach North were “shaved” by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in 2011, although the remains of Aboriginal middens can be clearly seen in the dark earth.

A DSE spokesman last week said cliff overhangs behind beach boxes were trimmed “to reduce risks to public safety, and also to ensure the site was safe for construction of the revetment [embankment wall] at the base of the cliff”.

“Under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 – and as advised in the Coastal Management Act consent given for these works – a CHMP was not required. Investigations conducted by DSE showed there were no AAV-registered midden sites at the location of the cliff works,” the spokesman said.

He said sand transported to Mt Martha North from Mt Martha South “has now stabilised to a more regular seasonal pattern of sand erosion and accretion … [and] should be effective for five to 10 years”.

“Investigations conducted by DSE showed there were no AAV-registered midden sites at the location of the cliff works,” the spokesman said.

Mornington Peninsula Shire was also given the all clear by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria to construct new beach access stairs from the Esplanade near Alice St, Mt Martha.

The shire was told the work was seen as “low impact activities” and no CHMP was needed.

Meanwhile, shell middens affected by the latest landslip near Ian Rd are being removed by hand or an excavator and being monitored by a cultural heritage adviser.

AAV communications manager Carol Nichols said the middens would be relocated to a nearby site.

“Within the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 there are provisions to enable emergency works in the aftermath of an emergency that allow works to be undertaken without the requirement for a Cultural Heritage Management Plan to be developed, approved and implemented,” Ms Nichols said.

“A Cultural Heritage Management Plan is required if a high impact activity, as defined in the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2007, is being undertaken within 200 metres of the coast, or in a situation where there is potential impact on known Aboriginal cultural heritage.”

Ms Nichols said AAV did not know about the earlier landslips on the Esplanade or the works at Mt Martha North beach.


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